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Influence, the Two-way Street

Business owners should share aspects of the entity’s mission and vision in practical and tangible ways that will help to give the organization a more credible presence.

For most people born prior to the year 2000, the concept of someone pursuing a career as an “influencer” would’ve seemed laughable, and virtually impossible, just a few decades ago. In a world prior to social media, where the Internet was a new and untried entity, the novelty of the rapidly unfolding technology was yet to wear off. It was a time of self-discovery for many – a scenario where the role of the content creator was totally undefined and organically developing as the latest tech developments pushed the boundaries further. The first hardy souls who dared venture into this new world soon discovered that an online persona was an entirely different sphere than had ever existed before in the realm of social interaction.

Fast forward to the 2020’s and the accelerator seems firmly pressed to the floor. Business, and society at large, are today so heavily driven by the technology of social media that engaging in the digital space now has to be an intentional commitment rather than a casual experiment. An online presence is quite often the most relevant connection an entrepreneur can initially hope to make with strangers who are unfamiliar with the enterprise. The business owner can then work toward cultivating a relationship that will eventually translate into the curious seeker becoming an interacting client or customer.

The most inherent danger of the social media culture is that the draw can sometimes become so overpowering as to eclipse the underlying value and purpose of engaging on the platforms to begin with. The unspoken obligation is to “see and be seen”, and the associated pressure to obtain and increase followers can work together to create their own endlessly trailing rabbit hole. The false narrative that winds up being crafted is one in which the only seemingly valid measurement of success is whether or not the entrepreneur develops a significant enough social media presence so as to be officially labelled, “Influencer”.

But for the small business owner, the story is very different. Social media – whether Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or Tik Tok – is realistically a tool rather than a golden idol to be chased after. Entrepreneurs who refuse to embrace this technology on at least some level run the very real risk of alienating potential customers or clients (particularly younger ones), not to mention being put at the immediate disadvantage by competitors who are more tech savvy. The guiding principle should be to properly assess the value of investing the time required to learn these platforms and maintain a presence on them weighed against the actual, tangible business benefits that come as a result.

Perhaps the most significant truth the small business owner can glean is that influence should be neither defined nor limited exclusively by engagement on social media. Completely beyond the realm of posting content on a formal platform, the entrepreneur engages in hundreds of valid interactions each week simply through the course of doing business. Whether a client, customer, vendor, or other third party, business owners will automatically have dialog with a variety of persons as daily operations unfold. The intentionality that drives engaging in such conversations can play a massive role in projecting the personality of an otherwise faceless marketplace entity.

Due very much to the highly competitive nature of the business world, the temptation can be strong indeed to be so jealously guarded so as to never talk openly with anyone about any facet of operations. Although it’s certainly prudent to guard trade secrets and other proprietary materials, business owners can still share aspects of the entity’s mission and vision in a practical and tangible way that will help to give the organization a more credible presence in the local sphere. This may or may not occur in conjunction with structured posts on social media, but it can help to foster a much greater transparency as to what the business is all about.

The desire to show an organization’s value and relevance can seem all-consuming, but a generous dash of humility is the perfect counterbalance. The desire to put oneself in the public eye for the sake of self-promotion needs to always occur with the sober realization that no entrepreneur has everything figured out. The intent shouldn’t be to say, “See how wonderful I am?”, but rather to seek an outlet to demonstrate the benefit of whatever the business is about through natural conversation. This automatically requires a thick skin, because whether it’s presented in person or online, there will always be a few sour souls waiting in the wings to criticize, judge, and ridicule.

But for the entrepreneur who can find a genuine platform to express not only who they are but also what their business embodies, perhaps the greatest possible benefit is to be on the receiving end of outside observation. When others find out more about what we do, perceive the inherent value (especially if it pertains directly to them), and enter into conversation about it, they’ll undoubtedly bring their own story to the table. Those types of discussions – where honest discourse gives someone else the impetus to bring something about their organization forward – can be an amazing catalyst for activity.

At its most basic level, this type of interaction can yield at least a better understanding of what others are in need of or have to offer. The best possible result is when conversation with like-minded individuals or even organizations begins to establish the groundwork for real exchange, which can result in the participants of the discussion gaining a much deeper understanding of what they each represent. In such cases, two-way influence may just happen to make its appearance, and thus, true collaboration is born.


Do you need helping crafting your organization's message? If so, ValorExcel can collaborate with you to create content, social media posts, or audio-visual modules for use in presentations, organizational trainings, etc. We can also help with YouTube or Podcast development which includes everything needed to set up various channels from start to finish. If you'd like to find out more, visit our website at or email us at or call 240-329-9387. Also, be sure to visit us on our YouTube Channel for tips, insights, and guidance on how you can truly do smart work in your organization.

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