There’s no denying it: Chris Brogan is a marketing powerhouse. He not only routinely lands on “most influential” lists, he writes best-selling books, keynotes major international conventions, runs a digital magazine, and teaches companies like Coca Cola, Sony and Google how to build real, lasting relationships with their employees and customers.

So when we had Brogan on Heart of Business, we sat in rapt attention as he talked social media, re-envisioning business, and building genuine, long-term relationships with your audience. Here are four things we learned from our 30+ minute chat with Chris Brogan:

1. Devote your newsletter to the people you cherish

Brogan is a prolific writer, but he writes his blog for people who stumble upon it and want to know more about him and his philosophy. His Chris Brogan newsletter, on the other hand, is where he puts his heart and soul. Not only does he answer questions from the newsletter personally, he estimates that each issue creates hundreds of lively conversations between both him and other newsletter readers.

2. Be the first to use the new toys

One of the reasons Chris has an edge is he used tools like Twitter right from the start. While simply using Twitter isn’t what makes a person a well-known personality or business owner, Brogan used the social media platform to communicate with like-minded people from the get-go. This made a difference in the long run.

3. Sound different than your peers

There are thousands of people trying to promote themselves as marketing or business experts, but only a select few make it to the top. For Brogan, the key to building influence is sounding different than your peers. Try something new. Do something unusual. The more you move away from what everyone else is doing, the better the chance you’ll stand apart.

4. Aim for a “tattoo-level culture”

When you run your business, do more than make your clients like their products, make them fanatics about your company. Using athletic clothing company FLAG NOR FAIL as an example, which develops and creates clothing within a warehouse where employees often live and sleep, Brogan believes that building a “tattoo-level culture” at your business, where your employees are insane for your company, will make your customers just as devoted to your brand.

With Brogan, becoming a thought leader was less about making that a goal, and more about being great at what he does. If you want to become an influence in your industry, start by being a business trailblazer. Your audience – and their devotion – will follow.