“So are you influential?”. She asked me. Over dinner. We were finishing, thankfully. She had been pointed to this by someone and she couldn’t believe it all.
A long conversation ensued and that set me thinking about influence. What it was, and more importantly what it meant to me.
If you look at Influence as the capacity to shape someone elses thought / action / way of working etc etc, that sits pretty much what I think too. Influence during the ages has come with birth, physical prowess, thought, power etc.
In the digital age, as with everything else, influence and what it means to be ‘influential’ is getting (re)shaped. Brian Solis put this report out on the rise of ‘Digital Influence’ and that resonated with me.
In my mind, at the centre of it all is this spectre of being able to and willing to SHARE. This propensity perhaps is the single largest factor that shapes influence or rather, has the potential to alter the scales substantially.
Essentially, if you do are aware of a few aspects about any topic (which any person with a job and a salary usually is ) and if you know a few others who know more or less about the same topic ( which again, most people do), you have the power to share.
The question is more about the willingness to share the same with the rest of the world who may (or may not) need it. To some of us the sharing comes naturally. To put key aspects of our work and life on to the public stream of conversation, and to most willingly connect people.
To several others, “sharing” needs to be cultivated in the modern digital way. In all my conversations with several senior leaders in various organisations the ‘sharing’ doesn’t happen for want of intent, but more a fear of ‘how it will be read’ and the associated ‘fears’.
One way of working around this is to “Work Out Aloud”. John Stepper in this blogpost outlines the essentials lucidly.
Steve Boyd’s posts here and here are important perspectives that you may want to consider. Every so many times, “lack of time” is cited as reason. I don’t doubt that people are busy, but thats no reason for getting ready to work differently and connect in the modern day world. To be able to share.
Last week, over an interaction Thiagi talked about building course content on the go, in another context : “Learning to build the plane even as I am flying it” he said. It immediately struck me, that perhaps thats the perfect metaphor for the ways of working of several of the projects that we have completed. Projects that got done, simply because of the connection to very generous people who didn’t hesitate to share!
The key aspect of this is to weave it into work. Make sharing, asking and bouncing of ideas on digital and other platforms as the new normal of working! That statement is from personal experience.
The benefits are enormous. The collective learning, inclusion and most importantly effective knowledge management will get benefits many times the quantum of the effort required.
Here are five aspects to remember if you are still thinking about jumping in and writing. Or tweeting. Atleast, this is what worked for me.
a. Share your dilemmas. Ask for help. You may not get any right away, but eventually you will
b. Help people with dilemmas, people who explicitly ask. Infact, do this as step 1
c. Remember you don’t need to have all answers. A ‘point of view’ will do and if you could point in the direction of people who have a point or two, will be equally treasured
d. There is nothing called a right opportunity. Get started somewhere. Generosity begets generosity and gradually a virtuous cycle of sharing and connecting ensues
e. Most importantly, play with it! Sometimes you get the results you wanted in a jiffy. Many other times you are left clutching an empty conversation. But then, there isn’t anything called an ‘empty conversation’!