MANAGER AND LEADERS have seen their job descriptions and annual reviews include the phrase “The ability to influence others”. Developing trusting relationships combined with good communication skills and a healthy amount of emotional intelligence has helped managers and leaders sway opinion, gain consensus and collaborate on difficult issues.
Today our “friends” and contacts have expanded beyond the four walls of our companies, to the world of social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, making the pool of people we can potential influence exponentially larger. We might have a few dozen people to influence within our organizations, and maybe a few hundred more with people we know in professional associations and acquaintances. But, in cyberspace, the number of people to influence could easily be in the tens of thousands.
Most of us understand how to use online tools to build and expand our digital networks, but few know how to gather information and wield influence. In their article Harvard Business Review article, authors Andy Molinsky and Thomas Davenport say we need three things to build an effective online network; reputation, specialization and network position.
In the virtual world you build your reputation by offering interesting content, drawing attention to your web presence and inspiring others to circulate and act on your ideas.
Like in the real world it is important to focus on key areas of expertise. A “Jack of all trades” doesn’t get noticed, but a specialist, does. Demonstrating deep knowledge, establishing links with other experts and offering relevant information and referrals are keys to specialization on the web.
According to Molinsky and Davenport “… organizations will begin to seek-out employees with demonstrably strong online connections and a track record of wielding influence through them. The best networkers will become even more highly valued.”
Remember that at your next job interview when you’re asked what kind of digital influence you have.