Chapter 13 - Be an Influencer - Nurturing an Audience
One quality that seemed to emerge from every interview was that person's ability to influence. This is not to be confused with being charming or extroverted, those are different things. Successful practitioners have a real passion for digital marketing and that passion can be very influential. Don't get me wrong, passion without expertise or planning won't get you far, but you can't get far without it.
There are several types of influencers and I'll share a few industry examples to help identify them and their qualities. Having people at all levels in your organization that are capable of influencing and nurturing change or even an initiative is necessary to its' growth and success.
Influencers are important because they are the nurturers of the seeds you sow, whether that has to do with seeds for developing a winning team or seeds to support a campaign or initiative.
A lot of what I know about networking I learned from Anne Kennedy, a 40-year marketing veteran, co-founder of Outline Ventures and co-author of "Global Search Marketing". Kennedy always says her only skill is connecting people (that's modesty, she's great at a lot of things but this truly is her gift). In her extensive travels around the world and in the industry she meets a lot of people. She has this spreadsheet in her head with basically two columns; column A) Someone's problem or pain point and column B) Someone with the answer. Her job is getting those two people connected. And the most amazing part, she does this job for the joy she experiences from making those connections and no compensation other than the gratitude she gets from droves of people including me. These types of people are priceless in that they help provide context in a very complex set of information.
When I shared my idea for this book with Kennedy, I shared my fears of having access to the right people to interview. Without hesitation she introduced me to Bill Hunt, who ended up being, not just an amazing voice of digital marketing expertise and reason but my favorite interview. She not only made the connection but reasoned, "Once you've interviewed Bill, a lot of the others on your list will follow." She was right. Where I was hearing crickets on my interview requests, my impassioned plea for "I'd love a few minutes with you to ask you questions about your experience in the industry" no longer fell on deaf ears once I shared I interviewed Bill. Shameless name dropping, but effective.
Aaron Wall, a much beloved but rarely seen icon in search marketing, shared his trials and tribulations up to the point when he found his purpose and love of SEO. His vulnerability, about his past, about his shyness makes him and his exceptional books, writings and advice, that much more trusted.
Bill Gates isn't an enormously charismatic speaker, What Gates lacks in charisma he makes up with his commitment and action, his passion for technology and helping others helped define computing, the internet and even philanthropic giving.
Whether your audience is your staff, your partners or your customers, identification of and a plan of outreach for influencers is critical.