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The Net Of Influence (Summary)

John Battelle's March 2004 Business 2.0 column, The Net of Influence, shares the importance of connecting with the top influencer's in your industry. Battelle presents more examples supporting the group size of 150 in social networking. Here is a summary of his article with additional commentary for specific application.

Summary of points from Battelle's column, The Net of Influence:

  1. Just 150 leaders influence your clients buying decisions, preferences, and the way they think about your industry. These leaders are specific to your industry. Find these influencer's if you want to improve the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts.
  2. Malcolm Gladwell's book Tipping Point presents 150 as the maximum size of social groups that remain manageable by an individual. This number represents group size were an individual can still maintain a personal relationship with each other group member. Common group size found in villages, military units, corporate division and communities of interest.
  3. Cultivating these social relationships is a continuous effort that requires an understanding your client's needs. Ask for input before you try to sell anything. This is an exercise in listening and understanding more than influence.

These points aren't anything new to loyal readers of Inside Strategic Relations. A four part tutorial on building Inner Circle Relationships outlined exactly what you'll need to do to find these key influencer's. Build an inner circle of individuals who influence your success in a particular industry using the following steps (excerpt from tutorial):

  1. Identify your inner circle relationships. Understand the solutions you provide a certain segment of buyers. Discover the problems faced by this same segment, research their concerns. Verify your assumptions with individuals clients, leaders in your field, and other authorities who can help you refine your solution.
  2. Choose members by those who most benefit from you. Look for people who would benefit from advancing your own objectives. In the case of influencer's, this could mean individuals whose credibility grows through recommending your solutions. Focus on individuals you already know.
  3. Compel influence leaders to specific action. Start by communicating your objectives in a way that advances the other persons objectives. Most influence leaders benefit from early access to information and resources. Echo their successes to increase their credibility and that of your solution.
  4. Cultivate connections with influence leaders. Keep relationships active by regularly asking for input and feedback as it pertains to your objectives. Help influencer's to reach objectives by shifting emphasis to their needs instead of your own. Keep abreast of influence leaders needs to be available when they need you most.

As you build your inner circle relationships, you'll find some people who surface repeatedly. These individuals tend to be known by many of your clients or are information providers in some manner. Individuals who have received delegated relationships are also considered influencer's in your social network.

Even if you don't believe there is just 150 individuals influencing the decisions of your entire customer base, do make an effort to identify as many influencer's as possible. Communicate with this segment differently. The more influencer's you identify and effectively communicate with, the better you'll be able to understand your clients and convey your marketing message.

As a company or as individuals, building relationships with influence leaders is something you start doing today if you want to lead your industry. These people will spread positive points about your solutions. You'll learn more about your clients to easily improve your ability to serve them.

John Battelle directs the business reporting program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He founded the Industry Standard and was a co-founding editor of Wired.

/ relationship-realms | executive-relations /

By Justin Hitt at March 8, 2004 8:29 AM  Subscribe in a reader


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