Becoming an influencer sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
After all, influencers get a lot of attention and they can demand premium prices for their services. People ask them for advice, want to partner with them, and invite them to speak at big events. Influencers have large followings who hang onto their every word and buy all their services and products.

In short, influencers have power. With benefits like these, it’s easy to understand why becoming an influencer is a big goal for a lot of entrepreneurs.

However, when trying to become an influencer, entrepreneurs make many mistakes along their journey. And, while some of these wrong decisions can be quickly fixed, other errors can slow down your progress, cost you tons of money, or actually hurt your authority.

So, pay close attention—with some hard work and focused action, becoming an influencer is within your reach. But it requires taking the right actions. Avoiding the common mistakes listed below can make the difference between rapidly growing your influence and remaining the best-kept secret in your industry.

1. Mistake #1: Starting Without a Goal 

There are many ways to become an influencer. You could:

  • Write best-selling books
  • Contribute to large publications as an authority in your industry
  • Film your own videos and turn into a YouTube or Facebook Live star
  • Become a media darling who is featured in news stories online and on TV
  • Travel the world and get paid a premium to speak in front of large audiences
  • Take thousands of selfies and become a well-known brand on Instagram
  • Grow a blog that has millions of readers each month

The list above is just a toe-dip into all of the possibilities that exist in today’s media-rich and connected world. There are many more pathways of influence.

But here’s what is important: while all of these options to become an influencer are possibilities for you, they aren’t all right for you, your life, or your business.

So the foundation of becoming an influencer is to know thyself and understand your vision. It’s essential to get crystal clarity on who you are, what you like to do—and what you don’t—,knowing where you want to go on your influencer adventure, and defining the type of platforms you enjoy using. Target the niche and audience you are passionate about and know you can add value to.

Target the niche and audience that you are passionate about and learn where they spend the most time.

For instance, I love connecting with communities and helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses through leveraging their personal brand, so I started a Facebook group as a way to build influence. I also love to write and talk, so two of my primary forms of creating content are writing articles and doing live streams on my Facebook page. I have two young children, so I know I don’t want to go around the world and travel because I couldn’t stand to be constantly away from them. I’m also not very good at photography or selfies, so I’m not focusing on Instagram as a key social media platform.

2. Mistake #2: Don’t Forget Tomorrow’s Next Big Deal

I see so many people chasing today’s “stars,” asking them for a joint collaboration or partnership of some sort. The stars are the people or publications or events in your industry with huge names, lists, followings, revenue, influence, and so on.

And I totally get it. Stars are the people who are invited to post in the top publications, speak in the biggest venues, partner with other influencers, and so on.
Reaching for the star influencers in your industry is totally seductive. After all, if you get them to partner with you, you get exposed to their huge audience and leverage. “Oprah effect,” anyone?
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching for the stars. But, you’re missing a huge opportunity if you aren’t also targeting tomorrow’s big deal.
 
Let me explain.
There are plenty of people who are at the same level as you—or a bit above—when it comes to your list size, Facebook group numbers, Twitter followers, revenue, influence, and so on. Look for the people who appear to be ambitious, savvy, and growing their audiences quickly—these are tomorrow’s big deals.
The good news? It’s pretty easy to establish relationships with the people who are in this category. They are much more likely to talk to you and consider a joint venture or partnership.
The cool thing? As they grow in influence, they’ll pull you up. When you develop relationships with multiple big deals of tomorrow, you will have a lot of exposure in a short amount of time.
Bottom line: Sure, reach for the stars, but also build a ladder to get yourself there. Target tomorrow’s next big deal.

3. Mistake #3: Not Intentionally Building a Community

A lot of entrepreneurs go by the “build it and they will come” mentality, relying on hope and chance to build their influence. They believe that if they write a great post in a top magazine or appear on a local TV news program or speak at a big event, that people will notice them.
The sad truth is, hope and chance will leave you in the dirt as other entrepreneurs step around you on their race to gain influence. Simply creating amazing content isn’t enough to build your influence. What it takes is an incredible amount of effort to intentionally build an audience who loves you and listens to what you have to say.
You also have to make sure that your content is narrowly focused so that your followers get to know you as the Go-to Person on X. Your personal brand and your unique message have to make you stand out in a crowded sea of other entrepreneurs.
Every single influencer who you admire had to start from zero and work to build an audience of loyal fans. A good way to do this is through a Facebook group and building a robust following on your social media platforms. You can also write a blog, regularly write guest posts, build an email list,  produce a podcast, or make a video show. Get a cohesive body of work out there in front of people.
The key to becoming an influencer in today’s info-heavy world is to maintain a consistent presence, and regularly offer useful targeted content that helps your audience solve problems. Get in front of them again and again and again. Your readers and listeners should walk away with new ideas, plans, and actions.
Be patient and build your following one person at a time. It takes persistence and hard work, but over time, the fanbase you have created will help spread the word about you, helping to carry you to the top.

Final Thoughts on Building Influence

Know thyself and set your goals. Pitch your ideas to both the stars of your industry as well as tomorrow’s next big deal. Consistently create valuable content and build meaningful relationships with your audience.
Now that you know what mistakes to avoid and the right actions to take, it’s time to take the steps to grow your influence. You’ve got this!

Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Wendy Maynard has 20 years of experience as a business consultant, marketing strategist, and executive coach. She co-founded Kinesis, an award-winning marketing firm and business consultancy based in Portland, Oregon. Wendy helps entrepreneurs and executives to develop remarkable brands, build leadership skills, and create great cultures. Her book, Marketing from the Inside Out, will be released in early 2017.