“The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions.”
–John Hancock

Wherever you find people, you’ll find influence. The concept is as basic as civilization, itself.

John Hancock understood its importance in business contexts. But as business moves to the digital space, the way we gain, use and respond to influence is shifting into overdrive. How does this digitally-enhanced version of influence affect the way we engage and motivate others across organizations and in the world at-large? And why should it matter to everyone in today’s workplace? These questions were top-of-mind this week at #TChat Events, as the TalentCulture community welcomed two influence experts:

Mark Fidelman, author of the book, Socialized!, and CEO of RaynForest, an influencer marketplace;
Mark Willaman, Founder and President of Fisher Vista LLC, owners of HRmarketer software and Fisher Vista marketing services

(Editor’s Note: See #TChat Twitter slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

Defining Social Influence

What is a “social influencer” anyway? If a static persona accumulates social media followers, is that enough? Or is it about behavior that attract the attention and interest of professional peers? Is it when your presence (or absence) affects the nature and flow of conversations on social channels? Or is it when you write blog posts that draw an extraordinary number of readers and comments?

Of course, it can involve all of these elements and more. Effective influencers use social tools as a means to an end. It’s not just about building an audience. It’s about engaging and interacting with people in ways that leave them enthused, passionate, and eager to tell others about that experience. As word spreads about influencers, word also spreads about their company, product or service.

Social Influence In Action

Take a look at some of today’s most prominent business influencers — people like Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington. They really put the “social” in social media. Unlike “image-first” personalities like the Gagas and Biebers of the world — social influencers invest in real community connections and conversations.

It’s smart to focus first on quality rather than quantity. (What would you prefer — 100 engaged industry peers, or 100,000 random followers, who may not even care about you or what you represent? Where can you add value, and get value in return? I would pick 100 targeted connections with whom I can have purposeful interactions. If those interactions create a gravitational pull that expands my sphere of influence, then I’ve done something right. As someone mentioned last night at #TChat — don’t be mislead into thinking that it’s a quick process.

Why Should We Care?

I think of social influencers as “go-to” resources. When I want advice or inspiration, I turn to my network. These are trusted professionals, and use their influence for broader purposes than self-promotion. They build relationships based on integrity, transparency, vulnerability and humor — all the best traits we look for in humans. No doubt that’s why TalentCulture CEO, Meghan Biro, encourages everyone to “live your brand.” It’s the most unique, powerful asset any of us can offer.

Social media is an extraordinary tool that helps us establish immediate connections with business leaders, employees, customers, stakeholders and others. It can provide companies with valuable insight about market perceptions. It can be a powerful force that shapes business brands, cultures and communities — if organization are willing to show up, listen and participate. This is where leaders can make a difference. Committing to an active social presence is the first step toward empowering employees and customers as brand ambassadors. There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Social Influence as a Competitive Advantage

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See the videos in the Preview Post now…

SAT 11/2:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed this week’s topic in a post that featured brief “sneak peek” hangout videos with our guests. Read the Preview: “The Rise of Influence in Social Business.

SUN 11/3:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested why and how modern leaders should invest in a social media presence. Read: “7 Traits of Highly Influential Leaders.

TUE 11/5:

Related Post: Guest blogger Paul Bailey helped us look at influence from the outside-in, with advice for job seekers on using social media intelligence to get hired. Read: “How Social Sleuthing Can Land You A Dream Job.

WED 11/6:

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Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Mark Willaman and Mark Fidelman how social media is transforming the concept of influence in today’s world of work. Fascinating stuff! Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and guests joined the entire TalentCulture ommunity on the #TChat Twitter stream for an open conversation focused on 5 key questions. For highlights, check the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Competitive Advantage of Social Influence

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-the-competitive-advantage-of-socia-1.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mark Willaman and Mark Fidelman for sharing your insights on the evolving meaning and importance of influence in the social era. Your knowledge and experience are invaluable to our community.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about influence-related issues or opportunities? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we take a closer look at how the social/mobile/cloud revolution is redefining the entire hiring process. So save the date (November 13) for another powerful #TChat double-header!

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and we look forward to hearing from you.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

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