Influence has always played an important role in leading and persuading others. I've yet to meet a successful person who doesn't have “influence” within their DNA. But influence as we've known it is changing. Today, personal digital influence is becoming a precursor to offline success.

Your influence is being measured

Like it or not. With the proliferation of the social web, the idea of who has influence is changing as we are being defined by influence scoring algorithms and programs such as Klout. Although I do look at Klout scores, I also put them in perspective. Klout doesn't give us the entire picture about someone. It is simply becoming more of the “top layer” of your digital influence. Build online influence

Ultimately you have to decide if you care about your “public” digital influence score. There will always be problems with gaming the system, and none of them will be perfect indicators…but they will matter. Klout is an indicator of influence, just like a good jobs report is an indicator of an economy on the rise. It is by no means a perfect predictor, or the whole picture.

If you achieve a high digital influence score but you can't back up your score with competence and consistency, that score will be meaningless when it comes to building and growing a successful business.

An All Access Pass to Becoming a Person of Influence

The playing field has been leveled. The age of personal influence equalizes us all.

Veteran professional services entrepreneurs are frustrated that some of their internet savvy peers are undermining their credibility online and attracting more clients. These less seasoned professionals understand how critical it is to stand out online and gain attention through personal branding and blogging.

Whether you like it or not, this is the age we are living today, where anyone can build a trusted network and grow a successful client-based business online. Your education and experience still matter, but not nearly as much as they once did.

The good news is that every entrepreneur has access the digital tools required to build digital influence. They are accessible and affordable. There is a learning curve. You are going to have to learn new skills to compete.

You can either decide to step up your game and start building your digital influence, or you can sit on the sidelines and complain. Instead of wasting your time and energy complaining be proactive building your personal brand. Show why you should be the trusted choice in your market or niche.

The sooner you start, the sooner you will begin building your personal digital “equity”.

You Don't Need a Mass Following

The definition of influence:

influence: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others

Notice that “others” isn't a defined “number of people”. You have to decide who the “others” are for you. Who are your ideal clients, and what valuable insights and guidance can you provide them? How can you effectively connect with them and cultivate meaningful relationships over time through your online presence?

It doesn't matter if you have 5 people who tune into your online channels everyday or 5000. You don't need to reach the masses to have tremendous success as a financial advisor, lawyer, consultant or coach. Typically you need to land a handful of high quality clients each year! (I wrote more about this concept here:  7 Important themes for Professionals Participating in Social Media). As a professional services provider, your brand and your product is YOU.

Determine Your Vision, Your Value, Your Purpose, and Your Market

In today's digital age, people are completely overwhelmed with information yet they are desperately seeking knowledge and guidance. They are searching for someone to lead them, and they are combing search engines and social networks for anwers.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who will you influence?
  • How will you help them to become better at who they are or what they do?
  • How is your unique value?
  • What will you bring to the table?
  • How will you brand and present yourself online?
  • What unique experiences and knowledge do you have that you can share?
  • Do you have the discipline and determination to show up everyday?

Backing Up Digital Influence with True Competence

Perhaps the downside of it being so easy and affordable to build a personal digital brand is the fact that there are many imposters out there. These false digital influencers will be found out. People still do their research to determine if someone really is worthy of their attention and trust.

If need to be able to back up your online influence offline.

True influence ultimately comes down to your ability to deliver, and whether or not you have the competence and depth to back up what you portray and say online.

For further reading on this topic:

Mark W. Schaefer's book is one of my favorites: “Return on Influence“.

Robert Cialdini is the Godfather of influence. Check out his work in a nutshell here: The Science of Persuasion

What are your thoughts about the importance of building personal digital influence? Share with me in the comments section below: