The Influencer & The Give Factor
I want to move away from the influencer numbers (reach, resonance, relevance) for a moment and focus on the characteristics that “create” an influencer. Do you think it’s possible for an ordinary person (yes, that means you and me), with daily communication to cultivate certain characteristics and become noticed, appreciated, recognized and regarded as someone with influence?
I believe we all have the ability to cultivate special characteristics and when combined in a greater capacity, they lead to influence. I mentioned several of them in a previous blog post on how to “Own Your Influence.” The person who becomes the influencer exhibits a heightened level or greater depth of the following qualities: Trust, knowledge, industry expertise, intense motivation and passion, a winning attitude, and a giving spirit. Also critical to influence is having the right people around you, who will support your efforts and continue to be your champions.
There is one characteristic that is a powerful part of influence. However, I’m not certain how much the numbers that represent influence, recognize this. It occurs when an influencer truly connects with a peer to the point where influence is not just simply sharing a statement, article, blog post or common interest of the influencer. This point is defined by a characteristic that I’d like to introduce as “The Give Factor.” For me, The Give Factor is one of the most incredible characteristics we can incorporate into our lives.
As we build or cultivate relationships and they get deeper, on any platform, and in the physical setting, the levels of giving naturally increase. And, as the relationship grows, the giving grows and the influence climbs. One of the major characteristics of an influencer is the person’s ability to give to their peers in their network. When influence is at its peak, it’s this kind of influence that leads to helping peers make important decisions regarding purchases, education, career choices, and/or emotional and personal advice.
It takes time to cultivate The Give Factor, yet it is present at each phase of a relationship, even at the very beginning when the level of influence is less. In a sense, as you climb up the relationship staircase your Give Factor goes up. You incrementally increase your ability to listen, understand, support, and then empathize with people, offering higher levels of assistance and your own personal investment. In order for you to visualize The Give Factor, the climb looks something like this:
The Meet & Learn Phase: At this stage of the relationship and influence, as an influencer, you answer quick questions, provide helpful information, share knowledge, have flowing conversations and find that the interaction leads to more introductions to other people in the a person’s network.
The Understand Phase: At this stage, as an influencer, you understand your peer because you take the time to listen closely to a particular situation and see how you can help by making connections, spending extra time talking about the situation at hand (moving the conversation from the open forum on Facebook or Twitter to a more private setting where discussions run deeper). At this point, as an influencer you are sharing information that is more in-depth (with insight and expertise), moving beyond just an article, blog post or a helpful tool that would be shared in an open community.
The Support Phase: As an influencer, you start to feel connected to your peer and the particular situation, and you have moved beyond understanding to relate to the different needs of the relationship. Here’s where you move the conversations from a DM or FB message to Skype, telephone calls or long emails, with information that helps your peers with specific projects related to their work, education or personal interests. You may even be assisting with a challenging situation they are facing (not one that they would share in a social network). You have a much greater understanding and they are relying on your influence for more support than they would in The Meet & Learn and The Understand phases.
The Emphasize Phase: This is the highest phase of your influence and when the Give Factor is at its peak. Your influence is critical to the peer who is making an important decision, based on the fact that he/she feels you empathize and you understand what it’s like to be in his/her shoes. The relationship has moved to a mentoring phase and you are considered a more trusted confidant. As an influencer, peers will come to you with larger issues and they want advice and will act upon your words. The influence is very strong and you make a difference in their lives. Not only are you socializing with them in your online networks, but also you’ve had long conversations that have led to in person meetings. Your Give Factor is the highest it could possibly be, and you have achieved a level of influence that is only possible when you feel closely and personally connected. Even at this phase, the numbers don’t always tell us how much a person regards your influence.
There are many other characteristics that make an influencer but, for me, The Give Factor is among the ones that matters the most because we are helping peers to learn and grow. Giving back as an influencer takes time, but the reward is tremendous as you continue to “pay it forward.” What is your Give Factor and does this factor help you to move from ordinary to influencer? And, how are your influencers moving through the Give Factor climb to help you? We see and discuss the influencer numbers every day, but how much of those numbers relate to The Give Factor and how you really affect someone’s life?
March 9, 2011 @ 12:10 am
Refreshing to get away from the numbers and counts. And for what it’s worth Deirdre, you are IMHO, perhaps one of the most giving influencers in the industry — constantly support PRSA, do tons of stuff for new PR pros and students and are always wrapped up in some sort of professional event. Kudos to you!
March 9, 2011 @ 6:51 am
Hi Frank! Thank you so much for your kind words. I love helping the students and PR professionals. And, at the same time, I’m thankful to be learning from so many of my peers everyday 🙂