What makes an influencer?
When businesses ask individuals to talk to their organization, their customers, or a group of unknown individuals for an event they are looking for what is called an influencer. An influencer is someone that is considered, in part, an expert in their field. This past week I was asked to talk to two groups (note: I don't consider myself an influencer [yet] but I am definitely pushing to be one). One group is to a select twenty people in a very large company (who isn't our client – and we know never will be as they are not in our core market size). The group I will be talking to is their entire marketing department to change and improve their digital marketing foot print from locally to nationally. Of course, I accepted as just talking to a group of such great people is something that makes us truly proud. The other group is to over fifty people of their current and potential clients (and is one of our clients) related to helping learn the art of search engine optimization or SEO.
This got me thinking of why certain people are asked where others are not. If you are a member of a group, club, or organization you are often asked to talk as you are a member of that group. But why do people go outside of their groups to get people talking with them? This is where I feel the influencer factor comes into play and what I will be talking about.
I know one factor for us is cost – we don't charge to talk – and is why many companies ask us to talk. If we have to travel, stay overnight, etc. we do ask for that to be compensated for (we don't want to lose money beyond our time we take to do the talking before, during, and after the event) but beyond that we don't charge. We do this as we often do add clients to our own base after we talk or at a minimum add new fans who follow us which helps us get more exposure in the digital marketing landscape. We know the other is based on everything we write about in our blogs. This is one reason we write 50-100 articles per year across the entire team. I feel if only one of us talks it only shows one person as the expert and as you read what I will write in the next 30 minutes that I believe that a company is more than one person; it is the entire team.
We strive to keep our blogs shorter as we understand how everyone's time is valuable and limited. We ask everyone we talk with what made them choose us and they respond based on hearing us talk at an event or reading our blog articles, the frequency, the authenticity, and just being "down to earth" in a non-technical manner. Let's look at what makes an influencer in today's digital world and how you can become one (if you want).
You've got to be authentic
I have been told we are a bit crazy, reckless, and do things differently than everyone else and that is what I feel is part of our magical sauce. We are definitely unique individuals that work collaboratively as a team and we're proud of it! We do not put limitations beyond common-sense on our team. If there is something they don't agree with then they are allowed to post it. We don't want our team to change who they are as individuals. We know everyone has differences in their beliefs and we value that difference. When it comes to our business page we don't talk about certain things but that's business. Our own stuff I have one rule for the team. You can proof read "a little" but not a lot. We want to let our true selves come out in everything that we do. We like that we can be who we are and not try to be something we aren't just to make more money.
This way when people talk to us they hear the same voice that comes out in our writing. We could grammar-Nazi everything we write and have two voices (written and verbal) which is what a lot of companies do but for us that is lying to our audience and our rule #1 is we are never allowed to lie. That is a tall order for some and there are people we could never add to our team as they were qualified but stated they would bend the rules to get someone to do something which isn't allowed. At least they were honest about that.
Specializing rather than being a jack of everything
When we started JM2 Webdesigners we had to be a Jack of all trades but that didn't make us anything but a regular company. Over time as we've grown we have been able to become masters in our trade. We did this by hiring the best. We only want those that believe in working with a growing company that is different and trying to change the world.
Our hiring practice is completely different as well. If you are working somewhere already you don't qualify. That may seem odd as the best are already working, right? We don't think so and if they are working somewhere they aren't happy they also aren't for us. We want people that love working for us and if they are willing to stay at an organization not happy I feel they also will not be able to be an expert for our clients.
We won't take someone from another business. We pull from those with no job who we see as untapped potential. This is kind of crazy but as you can tell we are a bit crazy. A quarter of our team actually quit their jobs, waited a week, and then stopped in and gave us their resume. That was a true gamble on each of their parts as they had no guarantee of being hired but they were able to realize they weren't happy where they were and wanted something different in their lives. They did have some unique traits and talents as well. First, they are influencers in their field which helped us further our expertise as a company. Second, they believed in themselves when the companies they were with didn't believe in them or didn't let them know they believed in them.
You will rarely see an influencer that influences every industry. Some are fortunate that they can cross some industrial bounds but I cannot think of one that crosses every industry on this planet. You need to find that niche that you are truly great at, stick to it, and become as good in that subject matter as you can. You need to work at it on a daily basis and it needs to become a passion in your life.
Branding and marketing of yourself
To get yourself known you need to market and brand yourself to the world (or at least the industry you are trying to be the influencer in). You need to put your face, your ambitions, and your failures in front of the entire world. You have a deep desire to teach, educate, and be the best you can be while making those around you as good as they can be. You are essential an entrepreneur! You need to write (a lot) and not all of it will be great. Failure is part of an influencers life. This goes back to being authentic. You will share less content created by others and create content that fits your audience and helps them grow and become better. You will still share though as giving is something at the core of your heart and part of being an influencer.
Not only will you write (a lot) but you will look at writing articles for magazines, books, and trade journals. Not necessarily in that order but you will have aspirations to do those beyond just blogging and talking to others. You will do everything you can to get your name out to the masses and those that will listen.
Champion for success
An influencer is someone that champions the world for success. They want everyone to know that they not only believe in a product, project, or process but that it's the best there is and why it is. They talk about it with such passion, conviction, and love that it resonates in their voice, their actions, and they get you excited about it as they talk or that someone reads.
They never and I mean never attack, degrade, or try and destroy anyone else in their field. They are the MVP's of their industry and are sought after by others. Once they do that, even once, they are no longer an influencer but a follower. An influencer is someone that wants the best even from those that currently are not the best or even are their competitors. I mean an influencer wasn't born the best. They had to work their way and a true influencer helps promote and always talks positively about those also trying to achieve that level of influence.
As you can see being an influencer requires a lot of unique talents and traits. We all have it in ourselves to be the most awesome person possible and some of us even have the desire to help others. It is a truly special recipe and you can't just copy it or imitate it. You need that special "something" that no one else has. That only comes from being authentic and not being something that you are not. Dig deep into your soul and you will find it. It can take a while to achieve and you may never reach your full potential but until you start to look at becoming that person you want to be you never will.