Influence has always played an important role in leading and persuading others. I’ve yet to meet a successful person who doesn’t have “influence” within their DNA. But influence as we’ve known it is changing. Today, online influence is becoming a precursor to offline success.
Your influence is being measured
Like it or not. With the proliferation of the social web, the idea of who has influence is changing as we are being defined by influence scoring algorithms and programs such as Klout. Although I do look at Klout scores, I also put them in perspective. Klout doesn’t give us the entire picture about someone. It is simply becoming more of the “top layer” of online influence.
Ultimately you have to decide if you care about your “public” online influence score. There will always be problems with gaming the system, and none of them will be perfect indicators…but they will matter. Klout is an indicator of influence, just like a good jobs report is an indicator of an economy on the rise. It is by no means a perfect predictor, or the whole picture.
If you achieve a high online influence score but you can’t back up your score with competence and consistency, that score will be meaningless when it comes to building and growing a successful business.
An All Access Pass to Becoming a Person of Influence
The playing field has been leveled. The social web equalizes us all.
Veteran financial advisors I’ve spoken with are furious and frustrated that 5 year and younger financial advisors are appearing to be more credible through the social web and subsequently winning more clients.
Seasoned marketing professionals are frustrated that anyone and everyone can pose as a credible “marketing consultant” today.
You know what I say? Get over it. This is the new wired world we’re living in where anyone can create and showcase their individual brand to build a trusted network of followers and grow a successful business. You can reinvent yourself because you have access to the tools. We all have access to the tools. It’s what you do with the tools that will make you or break you.
You can either decide to step up your game in building and growing your own online influence platform, or you can sit on the sidelines and complain. Instead of wasting your time and energy complaining about how or why others are moving in on your territory (even if they don’t deserve to), be proactive with your own digital influence platform. Show why you should be the choice to follow, and the “go-to” resource.
Start NOW, because it will be difficult and expensive to catch up!
You Don’t Need a Mass Following
The definition of influence:
influence: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions,behavior, opinions, etc., of others
Notice that “others” isn’t a defined “number of people”. You have to decide who the “others” are for you. Who are your ideal clients, and what valuable insights and guidance can you provide them? How can you effectively connect with them and cultivate meaningful relationships over time?
It doesn’t matter if you have 5 people who tune into your online channels everyday or 5000. You don’t need to reach the masses to have tremendous success as a business professional. Typically you need to land a handful of high quality clients each year! (I wrote more about these ideas 2 years ago here: 7 Important themes for Professionals Participating in Social Media). As a business professional, your product is YOU.
Your ability to successfully build online influence with your target markets will depend on how well you present yourself, the quality of the content you create and publish, and how you behave in social networks.
There are a lot of smart people out there who have an ugly web presence and treat social networks as sales pitch opportunities. I don’t care how much you know or how experienced you are, you’ll never build online influence if you don’t do it the right way.
Invest in your individual brand, think through your value, develop and publish thoughtful insights, and be personable and giving in social networks to build online influence.
Determine Your Vision, Your Value, Your Purpose, and Your Market
Millions of people are waiting to be influenced. They are searching for answers, help, and solutions to their problems.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Who will you influence?
How will you help them to become better at who they are or what they do?
How will you define your unique value?
What will you bring to the table?
How will you brand and present yourself online?
What unique experiences and knowledge do you have that you can share?
Do you have the discipline and determination to show up everyday?
In order to determine your vision, value, purpose, and your market, look at your life experiences and evaluate your passions.
In my case, I spent most of my career convincing wealthy individuals to invest their life savings with me. The intangible sale as it pertains to money, something people are extremely emotional about, is arguably one of the toughest sales in existence. It is an extremely high trust process that requires knowledge about how people think, behave, and make important decisions.
As a successful wealth manager, I then moved into teaching other financial advisors how to do the same for many years.
Now, I’m teaching these same high trust principles to business professionals all over the world whose business success depends on client relationships and referrals. The difference is, now we have the added layer of digital and social. Not only do digital and social play a role with how I deliver my advice and guidance, it also plays a role with how my target audience can discover and consume my content.
Figure out your angle. Define your target market. Build a credible and professional online presence. Share everything you know. Be able to back it up.
Backing Up Online Influence with Offline Competence
Whether you have tons of social media followers and a high Klout score or not, the truth will come out. This is why I don’t think we need to get so caught up in influence scoring systems. It will not be difficult to see beyond the “Klout” score as people do their research to determine if you are worthy of their attention and trust.
Consistency is also important. I see way too many people launching “individual brands” only to fade away in a short period of time due to all of the work involved. Consistency is critical to building trust, both online and offline.
If you have the ability to build online influence, you better be able to back it up offline.
An example of where I’ve seen this play out is attending speaker sessions at conferences. Someone may look great on digital paper, but they do a terrible job of delivering their message (or the message is terrible). In some cases the person just wasn’t a good speaker, but in most cases, the lack of competency would show through in the content of the presentation, or the inability to field tough questions.
Influence ultimately comes down to your ability to deliver, and whether or not you have the competence and depth to back up the influence that you portray online.
Mark W. Schaefer has written a book entitled “Return on Influence“. (I’m in the middle of this book right now, but it’s a fascinating read)
Jay Baer conducts an interview with Mark on the Convince and Convert Blog. (recently had the opportunity to meet Jay at Blogworld NYC. He has some terrific insights about influence as well)
Robert Cialdini and Influence at Work (in my opinion, he’s the Godfather of Influence!)
What are your thoughts about the importance of building online influence? Share them below!