<rant>I'm listening to The Influencer Project. It's a really interesting project – 60 minutes of 60-second tips from the Who's Who on the web talking about creating influence online. I could be a little bitter that I didn't get invited to help, but as I'm listening to these folks… I came to the realization that many of them are just plain full of crap.
First, as you read through the list, do your homework… most of those people actually did not build their influence online. They were already influential and then went online. Still, others were influential because they wrote successful books or created successful businesses. In other words, they already had influence. That said, I respect all of them for the hard work they've done… I just disagree that they are experts in influencing people online.
Don't believe me? Go down the list of people and circle the ones that actually created their own influence online.
Anne Handley, Anne Holland, Brian Clark, Jason Falls, Liz Strauss, Hugh MacLeod, Dan Schawbel, Steve Woodruff, Chris Garrett… to name a few… no one knew who these people were before they scratched, bled and crawled their way to influence. They did it by taking risks, saving in piggy banks to travel to conferences, working until the deep hours of the morning, juggling day jobs and speaking gigs, losing their jobs, writing blogs and ebooks…
These folks achieved influence in their networks with tireless hard work.
Some people I know are amazed that I started a successful business in less than a year. In less than a year? Really? Folks – I've been working on this for a decade! Ten years of getting in trouble with my bosses for blogging about clients. Years of no sleep. Years of 7 day work weeks. Years of living on the Internet. I'm not even close to the same neighborhood of influence as those people on the project – but I know how hard they've worked to get where they are.
The funny part is, as you listen to the Influencer Project, some of these influencers have actually forgotten exactly how they got there! I didn't hear things like…
Join a high-risk startup that happened to make bajillions, write a best-selling book, be a humorous caustic intimidator that cusses a lot, start a successful traditional agency and then make the move online, be an expert off-line…
I heard crap like join a social network or start using some tool online. Are you kidding me? Tools are just that… tools! Give me a box of paints and a few weeks and I'll show you a painting that barely matches the skill level of a fourth-grader. Giving people online tools for influence isn't going to help them influence any more than giving me a lab is going to help me win the Nobel prize.
There are some great messages in with the project, don't get me wrong. I'm really not bitter… really. 🙂
So… you want to influence people? Hone your craft until you know it inside and out. Take every opportunity to lead or volunteer to get your name out. Help everyone. Invest in your own future instead of your employer… or that next pay raise or promotion. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail again. Get your name out. Call yourself an expert. Get ridiculed. Go speak – you'll probably suck, but you'll get better. Work hard.
I think my 60 seconds are up. </rant>
NOTE: Looks like FastCompany is running its own Influencer Project.