Trust: It’s the cornerstone of every small business. If you’re able to build trust with your clients, you’ll keep them coming back for years. And that’s what makes influencer marketing such a great marketing tactic for small businesses.

Influencers spend their careers cultivating networks of followers who really trust their recommendations, and that list is one of the biggest benefits of influencer marketing. In fact, average social media users reportedly think their favorite influencers are as much as 94% more believable than other social media personalities.

If you can connect with the types of influencers whose messages and styles align with yours, you can enter into a paid marketing agreement that guarantees your brand will be presented in a relevant, positive light to an audience chock-full of potential clients.

How to Connect With Influencers

The first step to a successful influencer marketing campaign is finding the right types of influencers for your business. If you partner with one that doesn’t align well, there’s a good chance his or her audience might not be as receptive to your brand, meaning your relationship won’t generate nearly as much ROI.

To optimize the benefits of influencer marketing, follow these steps to find and win over the best ones for your brand:

1. Consider the size of their audience.

Celebrities, of course, have the largest audiences in the influencer world, often pulling in millions of followers across multiple platforms. But a celebrity likely won’t fit your small business audience — not to mention your budget. Instead, think smaller. Micro-influencers have fewer than 100,000 followers, and local influencers might have less than 10,000 (or even 1,000), but their audiences tend to be really engaged. Start your search by compiling a list of micro-influencers related to your industry and active in your area.

2. Reach out to your own audience.

If members of your target audience follow your brand on social media, chances are good that they probably follow at least one influencer whose content is related to your industry. Don’t be shy about researching who those influencers are or even asking your audience about them directly. For example, create a question sticker on Instagram or a survey on Facebook so your followers can point out their faves.

3. Identify the right messaging.

Next, take stock of your brand’s image and messaging. Is it laid-back and fun? Is it artistic and stylized? Is it more formal or serious? Whatever the answer, weigh it against the types of influencers you want to win over. They shouldn’t sound exactly like you but close enough that promoting your brand won’t seem inauthentic. Search for hashtags related to your business to see whether any are already involved in the conversation. Narrow down your list of potential influencers by what you find out.

4. Engage with good candidates.

Now that you’ve got a good list going, it’s time to step out of the shadows and start to interact with the influencers you think might be a good match for your brand. Follow them from your own social channels. Retweet their content on Twitter. Comment on their Instagram and Facebook posts. Spread the love with likes on every platform. Don’t get too salesy in your interactions — for now, you just want to prove to the influencers that you’re a real, genuine person who’s interested in their content.

5. Get your relationships started.

Now that you’ve got a solid list of influencers you want to partner with, it’s time to actually contact them. Start by looking through their bios on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to see whether they have contact pages or websites listed. It’s always a good idea to look for their preferred contact method before you slide into their DMs. Once you’ve determined the right way to reach out, craft a personalized message to introduce yourself and express your desire to work together.

If you’re not sure where to start, you could create a template along these lines:

“Hey, [name]! I really loved your post from [day] about [topic] — it really spoke to me because [detail about yourself/your business]. Your style really resonates with me because [details about yourself and background]. I’d love to work with you on [hair/makeup/fitness/etc.] to create another impactful post!”

Be sure to include specific details about why each influencer’s brand feels authentic and related to your own.

Don’t take it personally if an influencer turns you down. Just move along to the next one on the list until you find the perfect partner.

Enjoying the benefits of influencer marketing takes knowing how to reach out to the right types of influencers, and following these tips will help you get it right.