How the Influencer Project taught me to stop caring about influence
July 15 2010
Last week I attended the shortest marketing conference ever: The Influencer Project. The virtual event brought together 60 digital innovators and asked them to speak for 60 seconds about increasing your influence online. Speakers included some of the top thought leaders in digital media today. Here are some that I was excited to hear from:
Brian Solis, author of Engage!
Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Wine Library TV blog and Crush It!
Mike Stelzner, founder of SocialMediaExaminer.com
Guy Kawasaki, author and co-founder of Alltop.com
Robbin Phillips, president of Brains on Fire
Dan Schawbel, author of the Personal Branding Blog
Mike Volpe, vice president at HubSpot
Ann Handley, chief content officer of MarketingProfs
John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing book and blog
Attending the Influencer Project seemed like a no-brainer: 60 phenomenal speakers that will help me become more influential online: that’s what everyone wants right? But as I listened to each speaker share their insights, I began to question the value of influence. Influence suggests exerting power over people and that really misses the point of new media. Instead of influence, what the speakers were really talking about was making a positive impact by building valuable and meaningful relationships.
So many organizations cite the number of fans, connections or followers they have on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as an indicator of influence. They speak with pride about their automated tweets and ghost personas. But relationships can’t be automated. If digital media has taught us anything it is that, no matter the medium, it is all about people, not the technology. Technology just provides new, exciting ways to connect with one another. Claiming you have influence based on an abstract number of followers is like judging the strength of your network by the number of business cards you’ve collected. What matters is not the number but the quality of your connections and how you can help them succeed.Here are three tips from the Influencer Project to help you make a difference—and just possibly effect significant change—by building strong, meaningful relationships.
1. Embrace your passion
People are drawn to others that are enthusiastic and have a story to tell. Embrace your passion. Figure out what drives you and commit to it. Share your ideas freely. Be authentic and true to yourself. Don’t try to pass yourself off as something you’re not. People can tell the difference.
2. Contribute in a meaningful way
You’re passionate. You have something to say, but don’t make it all about you. Show your value. Give other people a reason to care about what you care about. New media shouldn’t be a platform for navel gazing but a forum where you can help others achieve their goals. Understand your audience, their motivations and suggest ways for them to overcome their challenges. Be an advocate. One of my favorite recommendations from the Influencer Project was to find gifted up and comers that need help getting launched and support their efforts.
3. Reach out
I’m sure we’ve all heard clients who think that social media is free, easy and fast and run across snake oil salesmen who try to convince you that they can get you tens of thousands of followers overnight. Needless to say they’re wrong. Offline or online, building relationships is hard work. It takes a significant investment of time and effort. No one else can do it for you. It requires that you take it seriously and commit to it. Identify the people you want to connect with. Comment on their blog. Engage them on twitter, forums and other online communities. Grow your network by connecting with professionals in other areas.
These tips provide the basics for an action plan to connect and make a difference online. What have you done to help someone else succeed?
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Tags: The Influencer Project
, Social Media Examiner
, social media
, Robbin Phillips
, Personal Branding Blog
, new media
, Mike Volpe
, Mike Stelzner
, John Jantsch
, Guy Kawasaki
, Gary Vaynerchuk
, Duct Tape Marketing
, digital media
, Dan Schawbel
, Crush It!
, Brains on Fire
, Ann Handley