Has this ever happened to you?

You find an influencer you think you’d like to partner with.

You put them on your list of people to reach out to.

But then you start researching them in more depth…

And you realize that you actually don’t want to connect with them.

Maybe it’s their vibe – something about them offends you, annoys you, or just rubs you the wrong way.

Maybe it’s something about their headline, their offer, or the way they present themselves online.

For whatever reason, you just…don’t like them very much.

And so you cross them off your list.

But now you’ve spent time – possibly a lot of time – thinking about whether you should reach out to them and trying to identify why you don’t want to.

And particularly if the reason is a little vague even to you – if it has something to do with their vibe or the feeling you get while you’re researching them, rather than the specifics of their business or their offer – then you might feel confused about whether you should reach out even if your gut says no.

There’s nothing really wrong with them, so are you making a mistake by taking them off your list just because you don’t think you would like them?

I always tell my clients that wanting to connect with a particular influencer is an essential prerequisite for a partnership.

You shouldn’t try to partner with someone you wouldn’t want to be friends with.

No matter how big their audience is. No matter how perfect the fit is for your service with their audience. No matter how much you think you need them.

Don’t connect with people unless you feel confident you’ll enjoy and appreciate them as people, not just as influencers.

So I believe that gut check is important.

But what if you could bypass the time you spent finding this person, researching them, and then discovering you don’t want to work with them after all?

What if you could be reasonably certain before you even started researching them – from the minute you first found their website – that you are going to like them?

What if there were a shortcut for finding influencers you “vibe” with?

There is.

It’s one of my favorite methods for finding influencers.

I call it the “Backlink Your Heroes” method.

Here’s the core concept of this method:

It helps you find people who are similar to the people you most admire.

It’s kind of a “any friend of so-and-so is a friend of mine” concept.

The idea is, if there’s an influencer you love, then influencers who also love them are likely to be people you’d want to connect with.

So this is a networking approach, but one that doesn’t require you to actually know anyone already.

Because you can find all these connections online – even if you don’t actually know any of the influencers involved in real life.

Here’s how it works:

Start by choosing someone with a business very similar to yours who’s highly influential in your niche. Think of the person you most admire in your industry: the person you’d like to be five or ten years from now, after your business has grown exponentially.

The key here is choosing someone you truly, deeply admire. Don’t go for the most well-known person in your industry. Instead, think of the person whose emails you always open, whose blog posts you always read, and whose advice you always follow.

This is your hero.

For my search, I’ll start with Tad Hargrave of Marketing for Hippies.

Now, go to this link: https://www.seoreviewtools.com/valuable-backlinks-checker/.

This is a backlink checker.

It’s a free tool that will go out and search the internet and find all the other websites that link to your hero’s website.

All you need to do is put the website of your hero in the search box. You can choose to search for links that point only to the homepage, or to any page on the domain, depending on how many results you want to find. Then check the box to prove you’re not a robot, and click “perform check.”

In a minute or two, you’ll have a list of websites that link to your favorite site:

If you skim through the list, you’ll see that the top ones are mostly links that aren’t connecting to an influencer or individual – links like google, eventbrite, and medium. Skip past these. You’re looking for sites that are associated with an individual or an influencer – sites that could be connected with a person you might want to connect with.

In my case, I kept skimming through websites I know are not individuals (like google, reddit, medium, and ello), until I saw this one:

This site caught my attention because I’m not familiar with it. So it’s potentially an influencer who is not already on my list to connect with.

When you find a site that’s not already on your outreach list, click on the link to check it out.

This one takes me here: https://www.triplepundit.com/2012/03/rebuild-dream-channeling-dr-martin-luther-king-creating-green-jobs/

The first thing I notice is the logo at the top of the page, with the tagline “people, planet, profit.” This is interesting, and it indicates that this is a site intended for socially-conscious businesses. This means it might be a good influencer for me.

The next thing I notice is that this is a guest post that was published in March 2012. I can tell it’s a guest post because there’s a biography at the end, with a link to the author’s site:

Since this post is old, I don’t know if this site still accepts guest posts, but at least it did in the past, so it might be a good place to submit a guest post.

A quick google search tells me that if I can come up with a good topic for a guest post, this site would be well worth writing for:

And clicking the link in the author’s bio takes me to a site that might also be interesting to connect with (would Scott be open to hosting a workshop on partner marketing for eco-entrepreneurs? It’s possible!):

I would add both these sites to my list of potential influencers to connect with.

As you go through the backlinks results of your search, make a list of the ones that you think look interesting. You don’t need to figure out what kind of partnership you could propose right now; just make a list of the people you think you might want to connect with.

The backlinks are automatically sorted by domain authority, which is a number ranking that tells you how important Google thinks the site is. Generally, I stop searching once I get to domain authorities below 20 or so – those links belong to people who aren’t very influential yet. However, depending on what type of partnerships you’re looking for, and on what stage your business is, small influencers can be well worth reaching out to. If you’re just getting started, then smaller influencers are more valuable for you, so keep going until you’re happy with the number of people on your list.

You can repeat this search with someone else you admire, or with the links you find during the search.

If you run this search on a few links for people you admire every week, then you can easily grow your list of prospective influencers to reach out to in just a few minutes a day.

It’s one of the easiest ways to find potential partners, for a variety of reasons:

  • The search only takes a few minutes, so you can incorporate into your weekly or even daily routine.
  • The list of results is always changing as new sites link to your hero, so it’s a continually growing source of potential partners.
  • You can easily see how popular the website is by looking at the domain authority and eliminate sites that don’t get enough traffic to be good potential partners.
  • You know the partners like your hero, so you have something in common – and you have an easy connection point for reaching out.

Getting started with influencer marketing is hard, and it’s easy to waste hours, days, or even weeks spinning your wheels by searching for and researching partners who turn out to be poor prospects for your business partners. But if you schedule regular time to try this simple search, you’ll soon have a solid list of potential partners that you can’t wait to connect with. 

Did you enjoy this post? It’s based on an excerpt from my book, 27 Ways to Find Influencers Who Will Love to Partner With You. If you’d like to discover 26 more simple ways to find influencers, you can buy the book for $27 here.