Market InfluencersSocial media represents the rise of indirect, influencer dominated channels of communication, and it requires a new approach to developing and maintaining critical relationships. Business professionals who can leverage market influence can dynamically disrupt the current market status quo.

So how do you build a relationship with someone you don’t know is considering your unique value?

You have to change your mind-set from revenue to influence. Internal and external influencers now have a greater impact on the decision process. First, they must see you as the definitive expert in your chosen field to recommend you when they hear that buyers are having a challenge you can solve. Second, you must arm them with ammunition to make that connection; leaving this part to chance is futile. And third, you have to identify a very succinct path for the buyers to take—lead them down the path to engage you.

Start by getting very succinct about who you’re trying to ‘‘date.’’ Personally or professionally, you cannot date everyone. So, the more succinct you become about the profile of your target buyer, the more fruitful your social media efforts will be. Next, identify what will influence their thinking. What will move their needle, get them intrigued, push a button, or create a sense of curiosity to further research the topic? I recently wrote an article titled ‘‘If You’re Not at the Table, You’re on the Menu!’’ Do you think it raised a few eyebrows and got some attention? Sure, it also created a half-dozen speaking inquiries from business unit leaders who wanted their teams to hear how to enhance their performance through strategic relationships.

When I asked these executives how they found me, consistently they mentioned an internal lieutenant or an outside adviser who had handed them an article I had written or forwarded them one of my video blogs. That’s influencer marketing.

To learn more, read the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).

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