PR 2.0: Owning Your Influence

Last week I created a video blog about my reading regimen.  As I went over my favorite reading resources, two articles stuck in my mind.  It was the title of an Entrepreneur Inc. Magazine column called “THE WAY I WORK.” The first column highlighted Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, who described his work style as, “My style is to bust the door down and clean the mess up later.” I couldn’t get his work regimen out of my head.  Then when Iooked at the same column, a couple of months earlier.  Except this time, it was Gary Vaynerchuck letting everyone know that his style was, “Everyday, between every phone call – during every spare second – I’m on Twitter.”  These article had an impact on me. Although my post focused on how to stay “in the know” and how to keep up with the news with a daily reading regimen, in all honesty, that’s not why these articles or men stuck out in my head. The reason: there was something inherent in both of them with respect to their new influence … they truly owned it!

What do I mean by truly owning your influence? Once you achieve influence, which I’ll discuss in a moment, it’s how you maintain, manage and consistently give of yourself.  There are some new influencers, personalities such as Michael Arrington, Gary Vaynerchuck, Chris Brogan, Arriana Huffington, Charlene Li, and the list goes on, who I believe have reached positions of influence and to this day “own” their influence.  They continue to exhibit a combination of characteristics that have people riveted by their actions and following their every move.  It could be a combination of the driven attitude (“bust the door down”), the tireless energy that makes you never stop (“every day between every call on I’m Twitter”) or is it the power of social outreach and engagement that makes individuals soar to new heights of influence and remain as well known influencers.

When I think about influence, there are so many different definitions and calculations.  No one has said that there’s a right way and a wrong way to view influence.  And, no organization has come out with the only “influence” calculation. Studies are published every year about the top influencers and it’s a game of numbers from influencer rank to their reach and resonance.  But, if you really dissect influence, you have certain characteristics present with the fact that people (your peers) give other people influence because they registered high on a “value scale.” Then, if you don’t truly own your influence (manage and maintain it), as quickly as you gained influencer status, you can lose it too.

What about influence vs. popularity …  is it all about the numbers?  No, not necessarily, because as you gain popularity, the numbers most likely increase. However, at a certain point, you may lose touch with your closest circle or network, who gave you influence to begin with. In turn, this could make you less influential. You simply cannot maintain your close connection.  Of course, we can’t just look at the numbers because every web community has different influencers and the numbers in those influencer networks range from as small as a couple of hundred people to more than 1 million people.

So, what is the story behind influence…how does a person ride down the influence highway turning a page from ordinary communications to wild influence that’s driven and never sleeps, and, which affects people and the decisions they make?  I believe that influence starts long before you are ever named an influencer (it’s inherent in your personality) yet it’s not whether or not you are popular.  I bet today’s influencers have a story to tell about their steps to influence because it was a combination of factors over the years and more importantly, it’s what they are doing today to keep the influence.

Here are a few characteristics of an influencer:  Trust, in-depth knowledge, expertise of your industry, intense motivation and passion, a giving spirit, a winning attitude and the ability to “launch” with constant contact (both online and offline). Critical to influence is also having the right people around you, who will support your efforts and continue to be your champions. This is a “calculation” for influence, regardless of your numbers (Klout score, Twitter Grade, Twitalyzer).  If we can work more on these these characteristics, cultivate them (on a “characteristics scale”) to provide value and exhibit them consistently and tirelessly (owning it), then shouldn’t each and every one of us have what it takes to be an influencer?

What are the characteristics or your “calculations” that make an influencer and how does that influencer register on your value scale? And, whether they influence a few people or thousands, how do they own it?