When it comes to digital marketing, there are a millions tools at your disposable, but sometimes it may seem like you are screaming into an empty room. Everyone is trying to get noticed online, and you have to have something that is going to set you apart from the rest. For many digital marketers, that something is social influencers. Studies have shown that influencer outreach is one of the fastest and one of the cheapest ways to increase leads and sales for your company, but how do you do it? These tips that will help you get started.

1. Find the right social influencers.
The most important part of influence outreach is making sure you are reaching out to the right people. The right person is the person who has access to the audience you are trying to target. As a marketer, you should already have an idea of who that audience is, but now you need to get into their heads. Who are they going to listen to? Which blogs do they read? Who do they follow on Twitter and Instagram? It’s all about context. For example — on a large scale — a celebrity like Kim Kardashian is one of the biggest social influencers around. She has millions of social media followers who hang on her every word. However, if you are trying to sell vitamins for senior citizens, a majority of her followers aren’t going to care unless they’re looking for vitamins for their grandpas.

2. Know where to look.
Social media is a great place to start. Search for anyone mentioning your company, your niche or maybe even your competitors. Be sure to search related hashtags. Next, move on to bloggers. Look for those who blog about topics your audience might enjoy or topics related to your industry. You can sign up for Google Alerts for keywords pertaining to your niche, as well. Once you narrow down your list, find out how many followers the person has on social media or how many hits that blog gets a day to narrow the list even further. Check out their SEO, too.

3. Be professional when you reach out.
If you find someone on Twitter or Instagram who you want to reach out to, you shouldn’t necessarily send them a message on either platform. This is a business proposition after all. Look for an email address for the person. If you can’t find one, then you can rely on social media posts, direct messages, and blog comments, but an email makes you look more legitimate. Also, be careful about the subject line. You don’t want it to look like spam or some kid of scam, but you want to grab their attention. As for the email itself, personalize it. Don’t send the same generic email to 100 influencers. Find something they care about and mention it so they know you did your homework.
4. Build relationships.
Before letting the influencer know you are interested in doing business together, build a relationship. Follow the person on social media, like or share their posts, and have a conversation…but be genuine. If you share a post from their blog on Twitter, mention them in it. If you have a question about their brand or expertise, ask. It’s important to continue to build that relationship after you send your initial email contact, as well. People are going to give you more time if you put in more effort to get to know them.

5. Be careful what you ask for.
Never send a free product to an influencer and ask them to write something positive about it. Give him or her an opportunity to test your product with no expectations. This helps build trust. If the person does agree to post or blog about your product, allow them to use their own creativity to do so. After all, they need to uphold their own brand, too. The partnership should benefit both of you.

6. Ask for recommendations.
Once you have worked with a social influencer and built a good relationship with him or her, don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations for other important influencers. No matter what, be courteous and thank the person for everything they do for you. The better you are to work with, the more likely he or she is to recommend you to a friend with even more influence in your niche.