We talk often about the importance of networking, online and off. But rarely do we talk about how to expand our sphere of influence – or exactly why this tool is so important in today’s economy.
Today, we provide a “How To” guide that will help you be perceived as an “influencer” by colleagues, mentors and – perhaps most important – employers.
Step One: Share
Nothing demonstrates your status as an influencer more than being a sponge: absorbing as much information as you can – and then sharing what you’ve learned.
Twitter and Facebook are great places to share, as are LinkedIn Groups. Often overlooked as a great delivery method: casual conversation, in an email perhaps. Try adding a “PS” to the bottom of an email such as: “Did you see today’s post by @CareerSherpa about functional resumes? Take a look…” and then provide a link.
Others will remember you for taking the time to provide a “value added” statement – and immediately think of you as a potential influencer.
Step Two: Connect
By passing on your knowledge of power groups like #usguys, #InternPro or #TChat – and perhaps stating some anecdotal evidence of how they have helped you – you’ll be seen as a influencer yourself. Providing sincere introductions to influencers already engaged in those groups to a new colleague takes this point to a whole different level.
Inviting colleagues to join you in Twitter tribes and chats helps you improve your sphere of influence a great deal.
Step Three: Care
This idea is a bit controversial, as some (admittedly, mostly Boomers like myself) don’t believe you should give away the knowledge and experience you’ve gained, period.
However, it’s amazing how many influencers will support your efforts when it becomes clear you care more about helping others than you do about making money every time you talk or blog. For emerging talent, of course, this is quite simple: share everything!
You’ll be seen as a leader, collaborator and mentor – all considered tremendous soft skills in a tough job market.
Step Four: Volunteer
By volunteering at local events, doing pro bono work within your field of expertise, or perhaps by organizing a meet-up of colleagues in your hometown, you’ll instantly be seen as a compassionate influencer – and someone others want to work with moving forward.
Career karma is powerful.
To be seen as sincere and worthy of recommendation: be just as generous with your time as you are with your knowledge.
Step Five: Self-Learn
”Always be the worst musician in the band.”
This quote is attributed to musician Pat Metheny, but the metaphor crosses all industries and career choices. Simply put: if you find you are the smartest, most dynamic, most entrepreneurial, or the best blogger in your current circle of colleagues – expand your circle, now.
By meeting new contacts with fresh ideas and thought processes, your sphere of influence – both in terms of quantity and quality – will grow rapidly.
Bonus: Don’t be a D*ck
Okay, perhaps a poor choice of words – but you get the idea. Simple fact: people like to do business with people they like, or at least respect.
Being aggressive, confrontational, or even something as innocuous as being perceived too far to the left or right politically – for even just a few seconds – can ruin any goodwill you’ve developed over the years. Not worth it; yet it happens all the time. FYI, same goes for simply associating with someone acting like a d*ck. Get away. Quickly. Or your status as an influencer will be negatively affected.
Be nice. Be productive. Be positive. Be humble. Don’t be a… well, you know. Your sphere of influence will thank you.
Incorporate these tips into your social media, blogging and in-person networking strategies. How fast you can upgrade your personal sphere of influence just may surprise you.
About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Switch and Shift, The Daily Muse and Under30CEO.
Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” and was recently featured on HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and several top blogger lists, including JobMob’s “Top Career Bloggers of 2012”. Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!