Today I’ve decided to highlight 8 people who I feature in Digital Influencer, my recent book. I’m doing that to hammer home some points about what it takes to build influence online and how you can do this step by step.
Oprah Winfrey is a classic example of a Macro Influencer: someone whose influence is significant and reaches a variety of demographics, industries, and subjects. When she recommends one product or book, it automatically becomes a best seller or runaway hit.
Takeaway: becoming a macro influencer may be your ultimate goal, but for now, take it step by step, emulating successful macro influencers in your industry and working hard to engage with them to expand your own field of influence.
Robert Cialdini, a marketing and psychology author and professor, describes in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” how it is only possible to become an influencer if you have valuable, unique information to offer to others.
Takeaway: build influence by emphasizing what you have to offer that adds value in a unique way.
Bill Rancic is an entrepreneur who started out promoting his cigar of the month club by sending out funny glasses to media professionals who would sometimes then interview him. He eventually became an influencer this way, building his business and forging media connections.
Takeaway: as an influencer, understand how media and public relations work, and how your business fits into this overall process so you can capitalize on this relationship.
Tough-talking influencer and television host Bill O’Reilly isn’t a “nice guy”; in fact, he is blunt and at times even rude. But that’s exactly why people respect and like him, because in context this makes him seem more credible and courageous.
Takeaway: there are multiple factors in what makes an influencer likable; what matters most for your business will be niche-specific.
Common ground is critical to influencing others; Kelly Slater, a surfer and influencer, appeals to the shorts and tee shirt crowd who is more liberal and relaxed and inspires trust in those who share common ground with him.
Takeaway: likability for influencers depends on rapport and trust, so invest your time and effort in building both by nurturing good relationships in person and online.
I mentioned Charles Bolden, the head of NASA, in my book as a great example of someone widely acknowledged to be in possession of superior judgment and expert knowledge because obvious experts have the kind of authority that others willingly follow in most situations.
Takeaway: establish yourself as an authority in your area because people have a general sense of obligation to authority figures.
Tony Robbins is very adept with harnessing the power of other influencers. He leverages the recognition he receives from authoritative individuals and institutions as evidence of his own influence to great effect; for example, if you visit his website you’ll see powerful endorsements from former Presidents, major celebrities, and world-class athletes.
Takeaway: align with other influencers and sources of authority to bolster your own influence.
In his book “Outliers: The Story of Success” Malcolm Gladwell wrote that to really gain the expertise of a world-class performer you need 10,000 hours of education, experience, and work in your area. This means you need to hone your work and focus in on a niche area you can really master to be a true influencer in an industry.
Takeaway: focus in and own your niche; it won’t limit you, it will build your influence.
It’s not enough to take a casual glance at successful influencers to model their behavior; to build influence online step by step you need to understand why each influencer highlights important behavior and how to implement it. These 8 people who I feature in Digital Influencer, my recent book, each show an important step towards becoming a digital influencer.