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Connecting with the Clooneys - 3/5/2014 -

Jeff Korhan
Try this communications strategy: Shine a light on others and watch how it reflects back on your association.

By Jeff Korhan

If you know your industry or niche well, you know the major players. These are the influencers whose perspectives and recommendations others want to hear ó and often, regardless of the topic.
For example, years ago when I was pitching my book to an editor, she explained that she could sell a book on any subject that George Clooney authored. Whereas an unknown like me has to really knock it out of the park.
She made her point. I understood completely.
Therefore, the secret for bringing attention to your associationís online community is borrowing the influence of the George Clooneys of your industry. Here's how to do this in three easy steps.

#1 - Make a list of influencers and reach out.

You recognize that your community would love to hear from these influencers. You also know they are busy and have many requests for their time. That is why you have to do this right.
Like anyone else, these influencers appreciate having the spotlight shining on them. This gives them an opportunity to extend their influence into new communities such as yours. That's the benefit to them, as well as the fact that this will only take a small amount of their time.
The benefit to you and your association is obvious. That's why you are willing to do the work.
So, the first step is making a list of influencers whose expertise will be valuable to your community. Prioritize the list according to how likely you are to get a response.
Be sure they can all see that they are with a carefully selected group of their peers ó other influencers whose names they will recognize. This is essential because that familiarity alone will be evidence that your list is truly comprised of the "who's who" of your industry.
The reason for the prioritization is that once you get a handful to respond affirmatively, you can use that when you send a reminder. Nobody wants to be left out.
It can read something like this: "Dear Influencer: We've already heard from (those that have accepted) and are sending this friendly reminder before we compile our industry report."
#2 - Do the work: Compile a powerful report.

What would your association community ask these influencers if they could?
Consider a topic that everyone wants to learn more about. Go into this with plans to do it big. You want to create a report or an article that everyone will be proud to be associated with. This is vital if they are going to share it with their communities, which is obviously a bonus to your associationís branding as well.
In my arena, a typical report would be like this one where I was a contributor (see #16): 18 Social Media Marketing Tips from the Pros.
Please understand, this is an extensive report from one of the largest business blogs on the web. However, note that every contributor gets a link back to their site. Also, very little of our content was edited. Your contributors have to feel confident you will make them look good, and that means preserving their voice.
That said, anyone can make a mistake, so be sure you thoroughly check links, misspellings, and other minor inaccuracies.
#3 - Shine the light on your contributors.
What would you do if you were celebrity for a day? When you publish your article, by association with your contributors, this is that day. So, make the most of it.
  • Be prepared in advance to share your report on multiple channels. Recruit members, colleagues, and allied organizations who wouldn't mind getting some additional traffic to their site.
  • Most important is to give everyone that contributed a heads up when the article goes live. Be sure to include the URL in the email to them.
  • However, do not ask them to share with their community. When you do that, you compromise how this works. The idea is to give value and let the larger community decide if your contribution merits sharing.
The bottom line is that if you have done your job well, everyone will gladly share, and that will elevate your association to a higher level of influence and authority.
With a little luck, you'll also make some new connections, too.

Jeff Korhan, MBA, is a professional speaker, trainer, and coach. His new book, Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business, was released in April 2013.


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