Over the last few weeks I’ve been out and about giving talks and seminars. To my surprise some very nice people have come up to me and said that I’ve changed their behaviour in a productive way, from them either following me on a social network and reading something I’ve shared, or having been in the audience at one of my previous speaking engagements. Until then I’d never heard from or met these people before.
This got me to thinking about influence. Specifically that just because you get no direct or immediate feedback from what you say to your offline or online audiences, doesn’t mean that they aren’t listening and taking on board some or all of what you’re talking about.
Some examples then…
…I was at my friend’s 40th Birthday party last Saturday and a very nice couple came up to me and said that they had attended one of my auditorium talks about LinkedIn and that they had used what I had told then to great effect. The event was three years ago.
…I ran a seminar and surgery at IBM last week, and was only invited to do so on the back of Ben Martin @Social_Ben social media lead for IBM UK asking @Chrisbrogan who’d be a good person to talk about social media with a view to inspiring their sales team. Chris recommended me to Ben and Ben welcomed me into the heart of his family for dinner the evening before a very enjoyable session at IBM. I now consider Ben a friend and I’m sure my relationship with IBM will continue.
…Chris Brogan and I have been friends on Twitter for four years now, but we only really got to know each other via a chance tweet about our common interest in education, which culminated in us creating Learnpod – the largest unconference in post-16 education in the UK dedicated to Colleges getting the best out of social media. We organised everything online, only meeting for the first time on the morning of the conference!
…I sat on a business panel for Venturefest in Yorkshire a few months back, and I only got to do this on the back of a recommendation by Brendan Moffett Director – Marketing Sheffield. We’ve been connected on LinkedIn for several years. It was at Venturefest that I met Andrea Cropley a Partner at the Law firm Nabarro, and soon after I was engaged to deliver LinkedIn training to partners across the business.
I’m known around the agency for my overuse of the phrase ‘serendipity is a wonderful thing.’ The team here even had a coffee mug made for me with the phrase on it. But rest assured, just because people are not retweeting or sharing what you talk about on social networks, or feeding back directly to what you say online or offline, doesn’t mean they’re not hearing you. However, it’s often only through the serendipitous opportunities that are presented to us from members of our networks that we’re remind how important building familiarity, trust and influence are, and we only achieve this by being consistently present, useful members of the communities we engage in.