One of the aspects of influence many overlook as they seek to connect with others and get the word out is where they're starting from. That is critical if you want to develop influence with others — both loved ones and the market (although a good idea to love your customers, too).
How attractive are you?
Do you like to spend time alone? Think about it.
This is valid for organizations as well. Take a look around. Is everyone busy being busy or is there purpose to how they meet, discuss issues, approach work? What is the energy on the inside? Is it the nervous insecurity of feeling threatened by every new idea and by execution?
Are people comfortable speaking up, or are they afraid they will be judged harshly? What choices do teams make in relation to other teams? Do they choose to be connective while open, or are they seeking to get things done with others?
Influence starts with your self.
Last night I was meeting with a group of marketing and communications professionals in Bologna at an event organized by GGD. They collected a few questions to ask me as conversation starters for the evening. Here are the questions, translated by me, and my responses.
1.) How would you explain what you do to someone who hasn't met you? (via FriendFeed)
I help organizations connect with their customers and channels, both existing and new. My tools of the trade are marketing, communications, and the utilization of multiple channels, including social media, and technologies.
2.) How do you measure influence, that is your ability to influence others, with tools like Klout? Does it even make sense? (post by Alessandra Farabegoli)
Influence is a fairly complex concept, as you know. In a holistic sense, you can track it by asking people who has had influence on them — mentors, parents, teachers, situations, etc. Often, however, people don't realize what is influencing them until later, when they think about it. In retrospect.
Think about when you rationalize a purchase by looking for certain characteristics like reliability, performance, etc. Marketers have found other ways of learning about what makes an impact. Survey, focus groups, research, and observation.
All is easier online, when you can arrange to track the right things. Which is where Klout and other tools developed to track influence come in. I took a look at a few, if you're interested. The reason why everyone is talking about Klout is the advantage of the first entrant in the space, and the fact that the name is sticky.
What does Klout measure? It measures what people do — some of the actions they take in some of the social networks. So when you seek to figure out if a message is spreading and where, my suggestion is to track not just who is spreading it, and where, but how and why. Especially why.
Klout does not measure qualitative information. And is not ready to develop contextual information just yet. Sentiment analysis is another tricky aspect of measuring online action and conversation. Then again, we're quite bad at knowing our own motivations, aren't we?
3.) How did you start Conversation Agent? What did you do before having a blog? (GGDBologna)
I wrote about how my blog was born a while back. In truth, I was blogging years before on the Fast Company listserv. Which is also what I was doing before being involved 24/7 with content creation and design of strategy.
To me, a blog is a thinking place, a space where I have the opportunity to create a community and learn, in addition to providing feedback.
4.) How do you do social media in the US and how would you do it in Italy? What's the gap between the two? (GGDBologna)
Mind the gap is definitely something you should consider. It matters. Italy is ahead in design and fashion, culture, especially in the kind of literary knowledge and love for the arts that I so love about this place. People tend to be more open, while at the same time they feel more attached to certain responses from experiences.
In the US you might say provincial, but it's not the same thing. I think attached to certain outcomes and feedback is more like it. People have longer and deeper roots here, they don't move around as much. That includes organizations, even though they are making certain changes now.
I could not do what I do in the US and other parts of the world here. I would need to start with proper marketing and communications, customer relationships, helping organizations learn to think differently. That's now easy, because it goes against their attachment to the past, to what has made them successful. Or they think it has, because they don't know how much more they could be.
5.) What are the elements a company cannot do without to be in social media? (GGDBologna)
First off, organizations are already in social media, unless they are 100% certain their customers are not there. And these days, no matter the segment or age, that is becoming rare. Not impossible, just unusual. A caveat on segmentation: think psychographics along with ethnographics.
Many have said it and keep saying it — listening is key. Then developing the ability to interact and respond as appropriate, in real time. Which is where opportunity develops, not just to resolve an issue. To create new sources of revenue, you need to know what people are thinking and doing.
That is increasingly easier to learn online. Don't forget your physical stores, though, if you have them.
6.) Is it easier for a woman to work in social media? What are the easier opportunities overseas? (GGDBologna)
It's not easier or more difficult to be a woman doing anything. From the standpoint of recognition, well, that is a whole new conversation, isn't it? If you want recognition — both monetary and title-wise — then it is hard no matter where you are.
As a woman you tend to encounter a mixed bag when it comes to bosses and organizations. However, there are things you can do to help yourself, to influence outcomes. Take the first step. Initiate things. Which is quite hard for an Italian woman to do, I realize. Culture and inter personal relationships create habits.
With social media it is easier to publish and share what you know. Harder for someone else to take the credit of what you do. In the way our brains are wired, with more white matter, we're more connective and networked in our way of thinking and processing information. That is increasingly more important.
7.) What course of studies would you recommend to a woman who wants to have your same career?" (GGDBologna)
I studied Liberal Arts, languages, marketing communications, risk management, neurological development, anthropology, and psychology. I also took every course and program offered through work for the industries in which I worked, and am completely immersed in understanding and using technology and tools. I realize I am rare in this, a specialized generalist. I love learning.
To me, it's critical to learn to understand what interests you, what influences you, to find good mentors who respect and appreciate you as you are and look to help you improve without destroying your self confidence.
Find a good fit that lights you up in the morning — both with people and projects — and you will find your purpose.
[with Simon Mainwaring in front of Tony Hsieh Delivering Happiness bus at #SxSW]