Revisiting Influence

Everyone is wrong about influence. Except Your Customers from Valeria Maltoni

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.

Three years ago SXSW selected this solo talk. I think somewhere in Australia there is a video of the whole session, which I then modified for a conference in June of the same year.

I have been deeply immersed in the analysis of influence for a number of years from different angles:

  • individual sphere — how we can draw from our inner source of motivation and find the levers that help us act as leaders, community builders, go-to people at work, etc.
  • market force — this is the area of focus for marketers, especially when it comes to identifying and leveraging influence; smart businesses also learn how to develop influence
  • energy or undercurrent at species level — there is a broader conversation around influence that impacts how culture comes to be and drive relationships between people, countries, etc.

We often think about influence in terms of exploiting it, yet so rarely about how to develop it and/or in terms of positive impact that is greater than self interest, or longer term than right this minute/quarter.

The way I look at influence taps into what we feel deep down when we tap into a sense of contribution, awareness, and mindfulness. It is often discouraging to read accounts of success being associated with ruthlessness, and alas as a social species we tend to emulate what we see/perceive to be working.

This frame of reference is what influences us the most.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.


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