Do you want to to earn the respect and affection of your online network of peers, influencers, and prospects? Do you want to build your digital influence the right way?

There is a simple practice that can help you accomplish this, but only if you are intentional and genuine with your actions. That practice is promoting others.

Most people will NOT go the extra mile or take the time to proactively focus on promoting others.

The excuses range from having a preference for self-promotion, having a fear of promoting potential competitors, not taking the time to promote others, and not seeing the value in promoting others.

Engaging in a routine practice of genuinely promoting others is like magic. It's a win-win. When you promote others in the right way, great things can happen. You will be viewed as a respected influencer in your industry if you make promoting others a habit.

If you're not actively promoting your online connections, you are missing an opportunity to build relationships and position yourself as an influencer.

Here are 5 tips for becoming a better promoter online:

5 Tips for Effectively Promoting Others Online

1. Be a Genuine Promoter

This should go without saying but I'm saying it anyway. It's pretty easy for someone to gauge whether or not you are genuine in your promoting them.

How do you prove that you really are genuine?

The best way to do this is to cultivate actual relationships with your connections.

Not only promote the social content and profiles of your peers, influencers, and prospects, but strive to get to know them better as people.

Notice them, and observe what they're up to. Look and listen for opportunities to go deeper with your connections.

I can tell you hands down that the people in my network whom I've had 1-to-1 email exchanges or phone conversations with, or met face-to-face have by far been the best way to prove that I am genuine in promoting them.

I've learned more details about who they are as people as well as what their goals and challenges are.

With an actual relationship in place, your promotions become more meaningful to the person you are promoting. It's just that simple.

Once they've spoken with you, heard you speak, or met you in person, you no longer just have a connection. You have an acquaintance and maybe even a friend.

Do what you can to personally engage with those in your network that you want to build a better relationship with.

2. Don't Wait Until You Need Something

When I launched a new podcast, as part of my launch strategy, I reached out to industry peers and influencers through an email to announce the new podcast and ask for their support.

Those who sent congratulatory notes back to me and also proactively promoted my podcast had this in common; I had already been proactively promoting their content across my social channels on a consistent basis for at least a year prior.

There were a few on my list whom I do promote on a regular basis that did not reciprocate, but that is going to happen.

If you're genuine about why you are promoting someone from your network (because you believe they really have a valuable message to share), you shouldn't be concerned when they don't reciprocate. Some people just don't engage in this practice.

Start your promotion efforts long before you need help. Asking for help without giving first just doesn't work. Give to ask.

3. Have an Abundance Mentality

Do you worry that if you promote potential competitors in your industry that it will hurt your opportunity to stand out, or take something away from you?

I have definitely had this mentality and many of us do. We don't promote our perceived competitors. Instead, we worry that they might be doing a better job than we are.

Nothing is further from the truth. This is a scarcity mentality. You are different from your competitors simply by virtue of having a unique perspective and varied life experiences. It doesn't matter if you are writing and teaching about the same subject matter.

If you've done a good job personalizing your brand and message, and you are clear on who it is you are uniquely suited to serve, you really don't have any true competitors.

Having an abundance mentality will bring abundance into your business and life. Start promoting those who work in your industry or have similar businesses to yours. You might be surprised at what can happen!

4. Get Noticed

The real power in promoting others online is consistency. If you aren't consistent with your promotion, they may not ever notice!

Make sure your promotion efforts get noticed. For example, on LinkedIn you can @mention 1st degree connections and they will be notified. On Twitter, you can retweet and also mention the individual using the @ symbol. If you write a blog post and reference an influencer in your industry, link to their blog or website and let them know you mentioned them in your post.

Also take note of which social networks your influencers are most active on and promote them within those channels. You might try promoting them in your favorite social networks as well to expose them to a different audience.

The more popular an influencer is, the more time it will take to get noticed. Some may not notice at all. If you are consistent with your efforts, you are more likely to get noticed and you will open up opportunities to strengthen ties with the people you promote.

5. Gather Intelligence

The more you know about the people you want to promote, the more strategically you can be with your promotion efforts.

Consider utilizing “people intelligence” tools such as Newsle (now owned by LinkedIn) for keeping tabs on when your connections are mentioned in the news and Nimble (a lightweight social CRM tool) for becoming more intelligent about industry influencers and important people in your network

Create a Twitter list to make it easy to follow their updates. Sign-up for daily LinkedIn updates (found in your settings) which will come to your email inbox and alert you to the people in your network who are having birthdays, job changes, work anniversaries, or mentioned in the news.

Promoting others is something that has to be deliberately practiced on a consistent basis. You can't just promote someone ONE time and expect it to make a difference. Make people promotion a part of your daily efforts. It is more powerful than any marketing strategy you could engage in.

Genuinely promoting others is such an effective practice because it helps you build meaningful relationships with your connections. Your digital influence will grow as a by-product of this simple but powerful practice. While most people focus solely on promoting their own wares, differentiate yourself by promoting others!

Do you spend any of your social networking time on deliberately promoting others?