Influenced or Influencing?

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More than ever before – your body of work, your network and your accessibility are what drive business to you.

Sales has always used referrals as a means to generate opportunity – but increasingly social proofing is driving these conversations well before a sales person asks for a referral.

Social media channels, both professionally and personally, are growing in content asking for recommendations, providing recommendations and, unsurprisingly, providing an outlet for those who had a sub-optimal experience to vent their displeasure.

There was a recent series of articles around the Instagram ‘Influencer’ who wished to exchange free accommodation in favour of what effectively amounted to digital marketing to her follows. This rather innocent approach became a viral news piece – providing for some interesting discussions in offices and living rooms as to who was right.

The reality here is – regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this – it is happening. People are actively providing and seeking recommendations from their social groups often at the very beginning of their buying cycle.

What this means is that it is increasingly important for business and sales people to focus more on the ‘footprint’ they leave than ever. You are simply as good as your last job. Similarly, even if the business is seemingly doing everything right – social has the ability to change that quickly like for this restaurant. It is also important to respect this channel and the audience as many find how vocal an incensed crowd can become, like this business.

There is much on LinkedIn around personal branding and growing your online presence – most of which is very true. However, today, simply being there is no longer enough much like our personal networks, we are often defined by our contribution not membership.

It is becoming increasingly important that these social channels are respected recognising that when it goes wrong, it doesn’t only have a potentially large audience, it can also hang around for a while.

It is this fear that sees many sales people fearful of commenting or producing their own content on LinkedIn. A fear of being judged, contradicated or simply saying something that offends someone and/or their employer prevents many from contributing content. From being a thought and insight leader.

We see this play out in a online lives daily. We get presented with the most popular posts on Facebook or LinkedIn by default – that is, those posts with the most interactions. Yes, we can override this to a chronological feed, but the reality is we don’t. Much like a newspaper – we are presented with the news/articles the platform thinks is the most important. Someone else chooses who we are influenced by as very few people search much deeper than the core newsfeed.

Why is this? It is the social phenomenon of the 90/9/1 rule.

90% of people on social media lurk. They observe, read and listen – but that is all. 1% of users contribute most of the content and the remaining 9% sporadically contribute.

Not only do the 1% produce the majority of content, as a result of the algorithms being these social platforms, they also become the most seen. This is why people get paid for posting on Instagram etc – it is because the drive the ‘90%’ to the platform. They keep the platform relevant. They become the influencers.

LinkedIn is no different – if everyone simply had a profile on LinkedIn and no content or interaction happened, it would die quickly. As a sales person, knowing this, you can use it to your benefit (and that of your clients) by moving in to the 1%. You can become the influencer – leading with insight and value.

Intelligent Reach

How does one do this? Immediately many get goose bumps thinking they have to write articles and do videos. However, there are a variety of way to share content on LinkedIn. A list in least to most intimidating is:

  1. Like someones post/article
  2. Share someones article
  3. Share someones article with a comment
  4. Comment on someones article
  5. Create your own article/content
  6. Reply to comments on your article

Each time you do this, your network sees this activity (yes, you can turn this off, but why would you?). To be effective, all of these strategies can and should be deployed.

The goal with any of the above is developing intelligent reach.

What is this?

  • Relevant Content: Curating and/or creating relevant posts & articles for your audience/network. Ask yourself the question ‘How does what I am about to post add value to those who will see it?‘. Relevant, high value articles are more likely to be interacted with and shared, furthering your reach.
  • Delivered To A Relevant Audience: Build your network up of people you can help, can help you and can help your clients/prospects. The quality of your content is important – but equally so is having a community who appreciates it. Building a LinkedIn Network isn’t like playing Pokemon and collecting everything!
  • Regularly: Growing your influence in social isn’t a one hit wonder. It requires a discipline to seek insightful knowledge and regularly contribute to your community. Contributing regularly means your audience become to anticipate your content.

So – think about these as some parting thoughts

  • How many great articles did you read this week that you could have shared with your network?
  • Did you read and like/comment on your LinkedIn newsfeed posts?
  • How many clients could you have influenced this week if you had?

The reality is, if you aren’t in the 1% – you are likely in the 90%. The influenced rather than the influencers.

In sales, we should all strive to deliver meaningful, regular and relevant content to those we aim to add value to. This is our job.

In years gone by it was accessing the airtime at a realistic cost that prevented most people from accessing their network (remember the days of email blast newsletter done with ‘office publisher skills’. TV and Radio ad, paper etc were all really expensive. The challenged was getting the bandwidth to have a voice.

Today however, the challenge is vastly different. The challenge isn’t the channel, it is being heard. But to be heard, you have to speak. Everyone has the chance to have a voice, the quality of your content will determine if you are heard. However, saying nothing guarantees no one will hear you. And no one will be influenced.


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