Are You a Real Influencer?

297caee9110dd3112d19ffc737896a8e If you have 1000 friends on Facebook, does that mean you have that many friends in your daily life? Probably not. “Friends” is the social networking site’s savvy way of designating someone you may be aware of, even if you’re only faintly acquainted with that person. The word “friends” is much more pleasant and inclusive then “knows.”

Similarly, the ubiquity of degree programs and digital media has allowed many of us to become experts. Let’s face it: anyone with a degree, a certification, a few awards or years of experience in a particular industry can tout themselves as an expert. You may have even been quoted in a local paper or on a few blogs. Twenty years ago, being an expert in this sense may have sufficed.

But there are now literally MILLIONS of people with special skills or knowledge and years of training under their belts. Smug and satisfied, these same people hang their degrees on their walls, create brochure-style websites, print up their business cards and call themselves experts.

They are not authorities.

In our socially-driven, digital age, it’s not enough to be an expert. Unless of course, you want to be like everybody else. No, in order to really stand out, be considered an innovator, create change and have clients lining up to work with you, you have to be an authority.

A true authority brand has the power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior. She changes people’s minds, sways their opinions and influences their thoughts and opinions. She’s a part of the conversation, and is often leading it.

Because of her tremendous clarity around who she is, who she serves, the value she offers and why she’s in business in the first place, she connects confidently and easily with her target market and engages them where they need it most. She is a true INFLUENCER.

in·flu·ence /ˈɪnfluəns/ [IN-floo-entz] – noun: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior and opinions of others.

In his book, Social Media 101, author Chris Brogan talks about how Google comes to accept you as the Authority. Let’s take a look at Google’s top three measurements and compare them with “real-world” applications.

Inbound links from other sources – If someone is linking to your website, then you must have valuable information, especially if the person doing the linking is important, i.e. CNN, Oprah or The NY Times. When you offer something of value, people will not only seek you out, they will tell their friends about you. Word of Mouth has become Word of Mouse and is moving at the speed of light.

 Outbound links to quality material – This helps to prove that you’re a lively presence on the Web. It also proves that you’re willing to give as much as you get. Recommend and promote others’ good work and you’ll be rewarded ten-fold.

 Constantly updated contentGoogle values freshness over staleness. You’ve got to stay updated and current to offer something of value. It’s hard to be considered an authority when your website clearly declares, “I’m not home!”

 You may use computers to update information and even make first contact, but at the end of the day, you’re doing business with people. You want to build relationships, not lists.

Education is important. But it is just the foundation. It will never trump the value of the experience you need to become an authority on your brand. Consistently interacting with your clients and collaborating with your peers will develop your power and ability in your industry. Consistent efforts in this direction will eventually enable you to influence how people feel about you, your talents and most importantly, the brand you’ve created.


©Liz Dennery Sanders 2013

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