Why and How Influence Works (my SxSW Interactive PanelPicker)


Ripples_1 What would happen if I told you I could get you hired some place where you'd love to work? Or if you learned that I could hook you up with the right business partner and you'd end up making tons of money? 

How about a talk with a few connections and you'd sell books by the truckload? What if I could help you sell your company?

I have done all of those things and more, successfully. You wouldn't know from the number of comments to my posts, or retweets, would you?

A funny thing this about influence. Everyone's after it, either to have it or to leverage it. And very few take the time to understand how it works.

Not just mining the data. Because influence is a renewable resource. You can uncover and help amplify it by connecting people with shared interests.

Are appearances making us lazy? Or maybe automation is. About 3 years ago, I wrote a post about how in Web 3.0 artificial intelligence agents will be conversation agents. Ahead of the times, it seems.

The truth is — everyone is wrong about influence. Except your customers. This is the topic of my solo talk submission to SxSW interactive for 2011.

Everyone’s Wrong about Influence. Except your Customers

What is influence? For a decade, Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point has served as a touchstone for those who believe that influence resides in the hands of a select few. Not so, says a new generation of marketers. They believe that thanks to the democratizing power of the Internet, anyone can be an Influential.

Both camps are wrong.

True influence flows from drawing together people with shared interests. This session focuses on the process of identifying areas of relevancy among your customers and prospects, building community, and allowing others to amplify your influence as you meet their needs.

  1. Why is everything you know about influence wrong and what should you do about it?
  2. What doesn't work? The 5 "influence traps" you must avoid
  3. How do you reach the people who really matter the most?
  4. What are the best ways to influence the influencers your customers watch for cues?
  5. Can influence be bought or sold?

While the question of how you measure influence is interesting and valid. As an attendee, I'd wonder, how do I get there in the first place? How do I create/identify/harness/enroll
influence? What role does it play in my mix?

I'd want help in understanding how to
think about developing/attracting it for my brand/businesses. How you measure
it is in results… however, you won't know if those are good, unless
you know what you set out to do/change/activate/influence (pardon the
pun) and identify red herrings that can take you off course.

If this appeals to you, VOTE here.  [live link]

***

During a recent chat on Skype with my mother who's had the most influence over my thinking and doing, as we were talking about psychology and today's gold rush on personal influence, she
wrote: here's the difference, I never wanted power, I wanted to have
an audience. I wanted to be appreciated and loved and not forgotten…
therefore I was working in another way
.  

How are your customers working?

______

Additional resources:

Forget Influentials: in Viral Marketing Context Matters

Want to Build Influence? Be a Meaningful Specific

Earned Media and Influence

How to Harness Influence

Connecting with Real Influence

[the second time I saw this image on David Armano's blog, we had a conversation about off line influence]


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0 responses to “Why and How Influence Works (my SxSW Interactive PanelPicker)”

  1. Real influence lies in standing out from the noise around you.
    Everyone can blog, tweet, or post their thoughts on the internet but it’s those that engage, seek feedback, and react, who get their audience to be more than passive consumers but advocates.

  2. Valeria —
    this is really, really powerful quote from your mother.
    she wrote: here’s the difference, I never wanted power, I wanted to have an audience. I wanted to be appreciated and loved and not forgotten… therefore I was working in another way.
    I’ll be thinking about that for the rest of the day.
    Great post – hopefully I’ll to see the session at SxSW Interactive

  3. I applaud your focus on community – it’s an aspect of influencer marketing I’ve also been exploring. However, your 1st point seems a bit over the top. You believe that everything all the rest of us know about influence is wrong? Really?

  4. @Tom – how does it do that though? There are droves of people who engage, seek feedback, and respond. What makes those who get it effective?
    @Jeremy – most of the times, people’s motivation is that; to be seen and recognized in ways that feel genuine. Who knows, there were 2,400 proposals 😉 It was a good exercise thinking about how to construct the conversation.
    @Barbara – your question seems to imply everyone should take the statement personally. Indeed they should. Only as long as it gets them to pay attention to their customers and the organic communities they may already have and not recognized.

  5. I think there is another question ( in fact there are two thousand years of questions on this topic):
    [what if] everything you know about influence [is] wrong and what should you do about it?
    I suspect we are still centuries or many more away from “understanding” influence (cause and effect and multiple orders) Whilst social media provides more data we are no where near imagining the model to interrogate that data let alone design ways to positively intervene to answer your question ” What makes those who get it effective”.
    In other words what we measure depends on the way we model what is going on.
    For example, you infer we will only know what to measure we we know what we intend – and infer that you set the course. This is a particularly modern and western view of how things come to be and arguably ignores the arguably dominant role of “influence” upon the influencer.
    I have no doubt that curiosity and imagination will one day reveal how influence works ( and I’ll put my money that we are all wrong – by there is nothing exceptional about all of us being wrong) . In the meantime, I think a precautionary principle might be useful – influence yourself before others.
    By the way, I’d also add about influence “And very few take the [life] time to understand how it works.
    Peter

  6. I know this post is more a pitch for a possible presentation at some conference I’ve never been to, nor likely will (too many car events, not enough paid time off), but I had to sign up and vote for you just now. It’s the least I could do in exchange for the shot of adrenaline this post gave me today.
    “True influence flows from drawing together people with shared interests. This session focuses on the process of identifying areas of relevancy among your customers and prospects, building community, and allowing others to amplify your influence as you meet their needs.”
    Since I’ve started following you, you’ve managed to touch more than a few nerves. I don’t know that anything has shot right through to the heart of me like this piece above. Part of me feels influence, or aspiring to be influential, is self-serving, but I understand that influence helps us do more for others. Influence maximizes the return on requests to the community at large to lend a hand, it inspires us to grab a tool and help build a better world, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a good thing, but I feel it should grow more organically. Trying to tilt the playing field or game the system is insincere and bad karma.
    It’s been ten months since I started my little Gearbox Magazine project and I’m still just as excited as I was the night I bought the domain. More and more, it feels like I’ve finally begun my life’s work, my contribution to the world, my legacy – and you just described it to a T.
    All I want to do is bring people together around shared interests on a global scale, providing them with meaningful, relevant content they get nowhere else, and inspiring a sense of community extending beyond platform, pursuit or place.
    I could give a shit about influence. If I end up being some sort of influential blogger type guy, fine, but my focus is (this will sound familiar) connecting people and ideas and showing them how spectacular life is when we see how we truly matter on a planetary scale.
    I hope I’m not the only one who got this excited about your post today. Hopefully multiple people get this excited every day. Even though I can’t make it to SxSW, I will write those five questions down in my little book and chew on them for a bit. Hopefully you presentation will be available after the fact for download. 🙂

  7. @Peter – would it be fair to say that it depends on what you believe? I agree, very few take the lifetime it takes to see and uncover what they are inside. And now we’re getting all philosophical.
    @Brian – And you have experienced this first hand: “Influence maximizes the return on requests to the community at large to lend a hand, it inspires us to grab a tool and help build a better world, to be part of something bigger than ourselves.” As I wrote in my post for tomorrow, building community for the community is very different than building it for yourself. It looks different, too, even if you try to disguise it as “helpfulness”. Now imagine that after all that, a company reaches out to you and wants to enroll you as “an influencer” to the car community. What would you do/think? Because to a company that sells what is essentially part of your shared passion, you are the target influencer. I’m glad the idea and questions touched a nerve for you, it sounds productive.

  8. Yes/no,
    Sure, some only measure what they believe to be true.
    Others measure to determine whether the observed world corresponds with their mental models.
    One seeks to fashion the world in their image whilst the other seeks to fashion their mind in the shape of the world ( or something like this).
    Only the later is concerned with “right” and “wrong”. The former is about what is believable or unbelievable (often regardless of the evidence).
    And this is the paradox. How do you measure the believable (let alone the unbelievable)?
    To my mind, if “it” depends on belief, we may in fact be talking about the role of faith on influence.

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