Quit worrying about how influential everyone else is and focus on your network of influence.
Over the years in my career I have worked with said ‘influencers’ some fantastic and some well…not so. One thing that always struck me though is how clever these people are at amassing a following and using that following to build a career. Fair play to them.
However in a world where brands are taking to aligning with influencers and investing heavily in this area like it’s a new phenomena, we have forgotten this notion of influence has been around for centuries and you don’t have to have 10,000 plus followers on Instagram to evoke change and influence amongst your network.
Kristofer Heal wrote a similar piece – Everyone is an influencer to someone in which he talks about building your own relationships.
People ask me everyday to help them with an introduction or connection to someone within my network. They also ask me how do I do it. This is what I tell them:
‘Never dismiss anyone’ – everyone has a story and if their story doesn’t fit your story, you probably know someone where it will and can introduce.
I have spent the best part of my career nurturing my circle of influence relevant to me and what I can offer. That’s not to say I sit at my laptop each night and say ‘I am going to consciously work on my network’, it’s spending time with people and listening to their story (i.e scratch way beneath the surface) and nine times out of ten, there is a pot of gold for both of you and further into your network.
It takes time and sincerity. But what does this have to do with being an influencer?
Well, imagine a circle that keeps getting bigger (rings and rings getting better) and you are in the center. When you work on your network beyond the business card shove and nurture your network, it will grow. And when you least expect it, all the genuine connecting you have done in your network to grow their opportunities will come back to you with something greater.
This was certainly the case with me last night. A frolleague on her own accord took the time to make an introduction to someone quite influential in her network with the most amazing endorsement of me.
Give without expecting, make an positive impact by being yourself and doing what you believe in – that is true influence….and when you least expect it something wonderful will happen to you.
Giovanna’s top tips on creating and nurturing a genuine network and circle of influence:
Each month think of 5-10 people in your network who you think can add value and introduce them – not for you – but for them…just because
Stand out and leave a thank you card behind after a meeting or interview. Better still pop it in the post, it will stand out from the bills, sales propaganda or junk mail they normally receive
When you interact with people whether they be new encounters or established connections, listen to them - you might just learn something
After meeting someone new, I will write down a couple notes about them including a random point we spoke about so I can ask about them next time we connect or use it as a way to introduce them to someone else
(i.e. conversation starter outside the dreaded ‘what do you do’ question)
When you win a new client – welcome them to your team – send them a quirky gift and card that the entire team will enjoy, not just the decision maker – this builds amazing morale and advocacy amongst the wider team you will be working with
And if you are unfortunate to lose a client (it happens to all of us), don’t be a sore loser, send the team a thank you gift. Leave a lasting impression whatever the situation and part with grace – people will remember this and who knows might recommend you to someone else
When sharing information on your network e.g. within LinkedIn, don’t just like stuff for the sake of it, or post random inspirational quotes because that is what everyone else is doing, share and like what resonates with you and what you think will add true value to your network around you
Above all, never lie, never stretch the truth and never exaggerate. Be transparent, open and tactful. No one can fault you for being real!