Did you know that you have the power to influence others?
We live in a world that is becoming closer by the moment. Our hands extend across the globe via the web and can get to understand different cultures through pictures, videos, and relationships with people living in those countries. We can purchase goods by simply opening up a laptop or pressing a few buttons on our cellphone.
Pretty incredible, right?
Many would argue that while the Internet was the initiator of making our world a smaller place, it was social media that fully delivered us at the door of being, well, basically next door to one another. We can interact, share stories, and laugh just like we might if we lived in the same place.
These networks that have allowed us to get so comfortable with one another, and have bred a new sort of celebrity, one who has amassed a large following and can sway those masses with a simple recommendation.
Enter the era of influencer marketing. Social networks, like Facebook, have found through studies that the number one factor in helping us make decisions is the influence of our friends, family and people we admire or trust, i.e. influencers. With that weight carries heavy responsibility as a single person is capable of utilizing his/her audience to promote products, spread love to brands, or tell that audience to be weary of something.
But I don’t believe that it takes a huge audience to be considered an influencer, I believe everyone is an influencer because we are all influencing our own corners of the world – online and in person.
My theory is that while we all don’t have the massive fans of Chris Brogan or Mari Smith, we have people who are looking up to us for direction and are influenced by what we say and do, so it’s crucial we get serious about HOW we are influencing those around us.
Here’s my three ways to be the best influencer you can be:
1. Define your values.
Values are our principles or standards of behavior, what one holds as important.
If you’re going to be a powerful influencer then you’ve got to know who you are – what you stand for and what you won’t stand for. And if that sounds easy, it’s not.
Influencers are often given the opportunity to promote things they don’t like for large amounts of money or recognition. Will you know what to do in that kind of a situation?
You must be clear on how you’ll promote the brands and people you stand behind, and how you will handle those that don’t align with your values. As much as possible, you’ve got to decide ahead of time how to handle the pressure to do things you don’t agree with.
For example, at ARCH Digital Agency, we don’t use Buffer for our clients. We think very highly of it, greatly enjoy the content they put out, and their product, but we have found other tools that better suit our needs. However, we do promote Buffer, share their content and speak highly of them. Just because they aren’t our solution doesn’t mean they aren’t perfect for someone else. It’s a solid product! But there’s no way we would promote a product or service who didn’t fit those values.
Alternatively, you’ve got to be clear how you will promote what you do stand for. Will you volunteer time, do free work or offer discounts?
Knowing ahead of time, as much as possible, will safeguard you from being pulled back and forth and dealing with the stress of making important decisions.
2. Learn how to say no
Saying no isn’t always easy, but it can be the defining factor in who you allow yourself or your brand to be.
Most Hollywood celebrities talk about the unlimited choices and opportunities laid at their feet once they’ve achieved a bit of fame, and it’s the same with being an influencer.
As your brand grows and more opportunities present themselves, you’ll need to get comfortable making choices about what is the best for you versus what is good. These decisions are some of the hardest because when the wave is high, we want to take advantage of everything we can, but that’s not wise because we’ll always have to forfeit something for another. It may be lack of sleep, a constant schedule that doesn’t allow us to exercise or one so busy that we neglect our families.
There’s no one-way street for the best way to handle these situations or to know when to say no, but experience will teach you a lot. In addition, it’s invaluable to have someone you respect and trust who can give you advice when your decisions get tough.
What’s most important is that you take care of yourself and stick to your values. When those two things are occurring, it becomes easier to know when to say no.
3. Stay humble
Being an influencer may be something that I believe we all are, but it’s nothing to take for granted. The ability to influence people around us is an honor we should take very seriously, and understand it can be taken at any moment if we don’t receive it with humbleness.
Being humble doesn’t mean letting people trample all over you or take advantage of you, it simply means to serve. And in this case, it means to be aware of one’s status.
Some of the most influential people I’ve ever met were also the most humble. They understand clearly what an obligation it is to have people watching them, and they know how easily they can screw up or lose it all. They are thankful for their position and use it to encourage and support people, instead of tearing them down.
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of those people. You might not agree that he’s humble because he’s so straightforward and blunt, but he puts genuine effort into everything he does, encourages the ‘little guy,’ and puts his family first.
But not everyone can handle that amount of attention and stick to the core of who they are.
How many politicians or celebrities have we seen make terrible mistakes that cost them their families and careers? While the world may still pay attention to them, they’ve lost what mattered most.
To influence is to have power, and we must respect that power and know the responsibility it carries.
Are you ready to be an influencer?