Influencer marketing isn’t just a consumer brand game. Influencers can change the game for your company. If you don’t have one on your team, you could be missing out.
Here’s why B2B influencers are so important, how you should work with them, and how to find the right ones.
Why partner with B2B influencers?
It’s clear what influencers can offer: social media exposure, increasing brand awareness, reputation support. But they offer much more than those things.
Influencers can offer tons of knowledge. They’ve been in their niche for a while and have learned a lot about their industry. The reason they’re influencers is that they know a lot, they share useful content, and they are creative.
They can teach you from their own experience how to communicate and collaborate with other businesses. And if you do it right, you can learn from these influencers, either from afar or up close.
But this isn’t a one-way street. It’s not as if they just give to your business and get nothing in return. You can give influencers the chance to learn from you. You can give them more exposure. They can generate new and useful content based on their relationship with you and what you offer. Yet they can keep their creative control within the topic you give them. If you team up with a B2B influencer, both parties can benefit.
How to collaborate with influencers
That brings us to the “how” of working with influencers. The best-case scenario is where both parties are benefitting, learning, and/or growing their fanbase. This requires mutual respect and total transparency. Be upfront with them. Give them the resources and time they need to do something great. Treat them as partners because that’s what they are.
Here are some basic tips for working with B2B influencers:
- Make sure you know what you want and need from this collaboration. Know how this partnership will benefit your business.
- Share your business needs and goals with the influencer, leaving space for them to add value to the process.
- Give them the resources they need – shared documents, a test run of your product, video calls.
- Work together to generate ideas. Have brainstorming sessions, letting everyone involved have equal creative control. Remember, this is a collaboration.
- Follow-up after the campaign to see how the influencer feels about it. How did it go and how could it have gone better? What feedback do they have for you, and vice versa?
The main thing to remember is that this is a partnership that benefits both of you.
Finding B2B influencers using LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Now that you see why influencers can be so useful and how to work with them, it’s time to find them. The best tool for connecting with B2B influencers is LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Use the Advanced Search tool
With a Sales Navigator account, you get access to Advanced Search, which lets you find people based on very specific filters.
Some of the filters you can start with include:
- Shared interests
- Your degree of connection with them
And if you’re wondering how to use these filters to find B2B influencers, here are some basic tips:
- Start within your industry: the first place to look for influencers is in your own industry. It wouldn’t make sense to partner with someone who doesn’t have an influence within your market. So let all the other filters follow the industry filter.
- Look at who’s promoting your competition: find professionals who are already promoting another company similar to yours. Why? Because, unless they’ve signed some sort of exclusive agreement with your competition, they may not have a problem talking about your company too. So you can use the keywords filter to find influencers who have worked with your competition.
- Connect with those who share your audience: this could be someone who may or may not be in your industry. If they’re not, their fanbase may still overlap with yours. You may even have a lot of the same fans. For this, you can use the shared interests filter.
Once you’ve found influencers you want to contact, you can save them to a lead list. To create a lead list within Sales Navigator, go to Lists → Lead Lists → Create A Lead List. So when you get search results from the Advanced Search, you can add those profiles to your lead list, essentially bookmarking them.
Now that you’ve found your influencers and have saved them to your lead list, you can start contacting them.
There are two ways you can do this: with LinkedIn InMail messages or with a cold email. The latter limits you to 300 characters per message and you get just 20 messages a month. In contrast, email has virtually no limitations.
Plus, cold emails work if you do them right. Use a LinkedIn email finder to export the email addresses from those profiles and then emailing your leads. But before you send them a cold email, you need to warm them up a bit. One of the best ways to do this is by quoting them in your content. If they’re an effective influencer, they’ll have an article, video, or podcast you can quote and link back to.
Then, when you pitch them the idea of collaborating, mention that you quoted them and share the link. It’s clear LinkedIn helps you easily find B2B influencers in your niche, now you just need to start reaching out to them. Soon you’ll be increasing brand awareness and selling more.