The Diamond in the Rough System for Gaining Influence

This guest post is by Jonathan Goodman.

Content is still king, but influential relationships are queen. And we all know that women rule the world, so maybe we should start paying more attention to these queens.

Bloggers should publish less and promote more.

If you enjoy staying awake until 4am writing each night, and frantically trying to publish according to your over-zealous schedule, then continue doing what you’re doing. My guess is that you’re not paying enough attention to the queens though, and we all know how important it is to cherish, respect, and support the women in our lives.

That said, there are a lot of queens in the world, and everybody seems to be trying to get attention from the same ones. So you send emails to industry influencers and tweet at top bloggers. One day you get a response back and feel like you’ve made it to their inner circle.

Then you hear crickets … followed by tumbleweed rolling by. (Which is odd because you don’t live in the Wild West or in a cowboy movie. But I digress.)

The Diamond in the Rough System of relationship-building

In every industry there are a select few who are in the spotlight. They receive hundreds of emails, tweets, Facebook messages and so on every day. Likely they don’t answer their own mail and there isn’t much you can offer them in terms of support.

The Diamond in the Rough System is a way to get the influencers to want to approach you. It can be applied to any large social medium but I’m going to stick to Twitter for this article.

Twitter is a sea of shameless self-promotion. Much of it goes unnoticed. The feed is so cluttered and people are more interested in pumping their own information out than absorbing that of others. Add to that the unfortunate fact that what you’re saying isn’t unique—there are probably people with bigger followings already saying it—and you’re facing an uphill battle.

The Diamond in the Rough System will teach you how to find the Queens behind the scenes and court them.

First, understand that there are a number of influential people in every industry:

  • The influencers are the ones in control of the big brands. They may or may not be smarter than you, but they have hustled to get to where they are, and built an empire and great network around themselves.
  • The large magazines are usually faceless organizations with multiple walls and levels of bureaucracy getting in the way. This makes it difficult to get in touch with anyone.
  • The bloggers are gaining more steam in some industries. In the tech industries, for example, it could be argued they control the information; in plumbing they are relatively non-existent.
  • The senior editors are the top-level editors at magazines and industry publications. These people are over-worked and usually under-paid or under-appreciated.
  • The beat reporters and supporting editors are easy to access and have a lot of influence as to what goes into major publications. They are the diamonds in the rough.

Right about now you’re thinking I’m crazy. Because, if you’re like most people attempting to gain influence, you have tried to follow the conventional path and emailed various editors desperately trying to get his or her attention—and never gotten a response.

Get creative and get unconventional

Email is conventional. People have learned to ignore it. You must evolve your practices to get noticed.

Twitter is a way to build a relationship with the queens and create a friendship. Most of these reporters have modest, if any, followings on Twitter. So while they get 100+ emails a day, they might only get two @ mentions on Twitter. Which do you think they would be more likely to respond to?

How to find the diamonds in the rough

  • Follow the head editors and scan the lists of the people they follow. Look for accounts that say something like, “NY Times editor focusing on social media and marketing.” Follow everybody that seems to cover your niche.
  • Identify the top bloggers in your niche and follow the same steps are above.
  • Identify the top influencers in your niche and follow the same steps as above.
  • Search newspapers websites and find the editors that cover the subjects your niche pertains to. A Google search is usually all you need to find their Twitter account if they have one.
  • Every magazine lists the various editors and writers on the first couple pages. Identify the top magazines in your niche and write down the names of everybody on this page that fits your specifications. Do a Google search and try to find their Twitter account and follow them.
  • Pay attention to networks of influence. It’s not uncommon for a number of influencers to tweet back and forth with the same person that you have never heard of. That person is likely an important member behind the scenes.

The community of people at the top of your industry is close-knit. There are the influencers that you know and a supporting crew that acts behind the scenes that you don’t. These supporting crewmembers are your diamonds. Find them and make them feel important. Support them and build relationships with them.

How to court your queens

Now that you’ve found these people, respond intelligently to their tweets. If they promote a blog post or article with a link, take the time to read the entire article and respond with a piece of feedback or a question. If they say something about their personal life or hobby, send back a joke or tidbit of information.

As an aside I’ll add that you should not respond to every tweet. This comes off as needy. Respond only if you have something intelligent to say and not more than once or twice every couple of days.

Don’t ask for anything in return. Your bio on Twitter says who you are, and includes a link to your work. They will check you out. And you only publish your best work right?

You should have a headshot as your profile picture in Twitter, not your company logo. People like talking to and doing business with people, not faceless organizations.

It works

Following this system, I have been able to get featured as one of the Top 20 Smartest Fitness Trainers You Might Now Know by Livestrong, had my book featured both in Muscle & Fitness and as one of the Top 21 Health, Fitness and Nutrition Books, also by Livestrong, and recently I was contacted by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s right-hand man to write content for his site.

All of this happened because I built relationships with those that control the content behind the scenes. I never once submitted an article. Every time they reached out to me.

Write great material and only publish your best work. Then spend all of the time you saved finding the diamonds in the rough. They are the ones who will get your work to spread.

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