More and more, we’ve all heard the term “Influencer” to describe someone who connects and makes a difference in the lives of the people around them. These change creators are highly coveted by brands, by companies, and by audiences across the world. But what exactly does it mean to be an influencer? Is it something innate, into which you are born? Or are Influencers actually built, block-by-block, step-by-step, opportunity-by-opportunity. We are seeing that, at least recently, Influencers are often created in response to a need in the world. They don’t wake up one day and claim to be important. Rather, they rise to the occasion in order to change the world around them.
One such Influencer is a woman named Angie Chang. She co-founded Women 2.0, one of the largest global communities for women working in technology. She has close to 10,000 followers and even more fans. In a recent interview, she outlined the four tenants she adopted early in her career to amplify her voice and connect to the world around her:
- Construct your confidence—everyone else is figuring it out, too. “Nearly every guy I met handed me a card that read ‘CEO of ‘Company X’ and I was impressed. I listened to what they had to say,” says Chang. “Then I’d go through my stack of business cards, put their companies’ URLs in my web browser and realize that many were not only the CEO, but also the first and only employee of whatever company it was. Early on, I was determined to project — and feel — that confidence like anyone else.”
- Deconstruct your networking events. Change says, “For more nervous or introverted meet up attendees, go into a networking situation with a quantitative goal. It might be staying an hour or meeting three people. Don’t let yourself leave before you hit that number. A well-timed entrance doesn’t always mean arriving before the free pizza runs out or walking in fashionably late. Chang suggests segmenting networking events differently. “Go early if you want to talk to the organizer without interruption or if you want quiet time to have more in-depth conversations,” she says. “Go toward the end if you seek quick chats, want exposure among a large number of people, or prefer to choose when to be noticed. Things really started for me when I was new to meet ups, practiced being curious and asked questions.”
- Always default to yes. Even if you’ve decided to become an influencer, it’s hard to know which channels will be most effective for you to meet the right people. So don’t guess. Just go with it.
- Banish blind introductions. “If a person wants an introduction to someone I know, I always ask for the purpose of the connection,” say Chang. “I won’t do a blind connection — it has to be useful to both people. Otherwise, I lose credibility and so does the other person.”
These are just a few of the insider hints and tips that great Influencers implement into their own lives. Developing into an Influencer is a tremendous goal, but begins with a genuine desire to connect with people and make a difference in their lives. Chang didn’t intend to become an Influencer, but she recognized a need and then jumped into action to fulfill it. That is the true beauty of Influencers.