-or- Two types of network influence – Part 2
“Who can change my life today?”
When I was 19, my dad took me to a Howard Brinton StarPower real estate conference in San Francisco. It was 2004 and for Realtors, business was good.
Total culture shock for a teen. Over the top on production value. You go from room to room listening to agents doing $50m+ in transaction value talk about their approaches. I remember a team 10 people deep decked out in camouflage at a sponsored booth at the ready to talk about their “stealth lead gen sites,” between seminars.
Instead, the best salespeople in the country were simply talking about how to get more sales.
One seminar on the “hour of power,” was based on the theme of, “who can change my life, today?”
The idea is you spend an hour making calls every morning, starting with the most promising leads, and then make at least five calls to your sphere of influence (network) to do relationship building (e.g. staying top of mind and asking for referrals).
The scripts for asking for referrals were rapid fire questions like, “do you know anyone looking to buy or sell a home at work?” “what about from your kid’s school?”
Being a teen, I tried to imagine who I would ever call using these scripts besides my friends’ parents and parents’ friends: “Hi Uncle Larry, who at your job wants a house, please.”
Weirdly, none of the seminars were about how to help sellers get more money or exposure or faster sales for their homes, or help buyers more easily find the home they wanted, at a price they could afford. That would have helped me feel more confident that I could be a better alternative for someone in my network to sell or buy a house from.
I quickly decided a career in real estate was not for me but, looking back, there it is, again – relationship build with the people in your network and stay top of mind.
The mechanism by which you see returns and major growth in influence is through that betweenness.
In network analysis, the way you measure betweenness, what those algos do is determine the shortest path between two nodes and consider how many alternate paths exist, and of what lengths.
Access to networks you want to join exists through people, people you are connected to are the invisible bridge trolls, the shortest paths.
By not staying in touch, being top of mind, and passing some sniff tests, you are, in effect, diminishing your odds of crossing bridges. By not doing those things, you force your first degree connections to act like bridge trolls.
In the back of my mind, I hear these takeaways all sound very cliche. “Work your network.” “Ask for referrals.” “Be of service.” “Build relationships.”
But learning about it from this perspective has helped me understand how to evaluate the potential effectiveness of different content marketing activities.
To me, drawing connections between network analysis relying on connected data with graph algorithms to predict and surface opportunity, as a reflection of how people act in the real world is the fascinating, challenging, hard part.
So when someone says, “keep in touch with your network,” it sounds cliche, but the value should not be understated.
You only have your network.
In the larger context of your expertise, you are:
- plugged in to those with large and/or important audiences
- building relationships with those with audiences
- known to them and their audiences
Your current approach to content amplification determines your trajectory here.
I want to make sure you understand this matters for getting awareness from the right audiences.
And therefore, it matters for SEO. The proxies for expertise, authority, and trust that Google cares about are byproducts of being well-connected.
What proxies? Links! Links to your content from authoritative sources are the easiest to crawl, index, and understand reflection of authority for search engines.
But links are just one way. What other proxies? Entity-relationship mappings. You are associated with who? What organization? What credentials? What subject matter? What conferences have you spoken at?Who is mentioning you? Who is talking about and building upon your work?
If these lines are not easy to draw, and for many of you, they are not (just look at your about page), then those relationships between ideas, subject matter, other experts, are hidden. Others will get the credit.
You cannot be a well-regarded, impactful expert in a field without being acknowledged as such.
If your business hasn’t seen a major jump in the past few years, if instead it has been a bit of a grind (whether pleasant or not), if it feels like your content doesn’t perform as well as it should, it’s likely because of a few things:
- You are trying to build up your own popularity as influence in a traditional sense as opposed to creating in-roads to new networks. This is the crawl and hustle your way to notoriety approach. It looks like a bag of tactics, cross-post to lots of social platforms, pay an offshore resource to do SEO things you don’t understand, throw squeeze landing pages on newly registered domains, etc..
- You are likely sitting at the same lunch table with the same friends everyday instead of mixing in new tables (or sitting at the wrong new tables). I get it. As we get older, we want to refine our friend circle, settle into a rhythm with work, and it’s hard to tell which new tables are worth sitting at.
- You do not realize the value of your current network. You do not see them as shortest paths to where you want to go, because you cannot see their networks. Those in your network are 5, 10 years further along in a career and sophistication of their own networks from when you last touched based 5 or 10 years ago. The value of your network appreciates everyday, but without contact, the strength of those ties, decay.
- The way you think of and approach collaborators vs competitors is unproductive. Aside: as personal brands, we need to treat other personal brands as collaborators, and larger orgs that would want to leverage us as collaborators, but also have a very good understanding of our audience’s options and how they think about solving their problems, beyond, for example, who to buy an info product from.
- You do not pass a sniff test at being good enough at your craft for those around you to refer you. This doesn’t nec mean you aren’t good at your craft, it’s that people don’t know it. We lost a $100k website oppt at Inbound Found last year that would have been a great fit because we hadn’t updated our portfolio and site in 4 years.
Okay, enough for today!