It was when we were still green in our career and working in the lifestyle PR world when we first heard the term “influencer” as our boss at the time was discussing who to invite to a client event that would include said influencers as well as media. As we assembled the list, a few familiar names stood out, namely those who were regulars on the city’s social and charity event scene, prominent on social media channels or had done something exceptional that had garnished them public recognition. At first, these “influencers” were intimidating as a PR intern, but we quickly begin to realize common characteristics on what makes someone "influential."
Be an Expert and Source of Knowledge
To be influential, become an expert in your field or side project instead of attempting to be a Jack or Jill of all trades. Instead, assess your talents and strengths, identify your niche and own it. Don’t just be good at what you do, be exceptional. Educate yourself by taking informational meetings with seasoned influencers, reading business books and expanding your skill set as new opportunities arise. Keep learning and never assume there is nothing more to learn about your chosen profession.
Own Social Networking Sites
Once you have become an expert in your chosen niche, showcase your knowledge, expertise and creativity through active social media engagement on channels like Twitter, blogs and Facebook, as well as YouTube and Vimeo. Vast social networks are tools to assert your presence to large networks and develop them at the same time. Don’t just make noise; add value to the conversation with thought provoking comments and informed opinions. Link to articles of interest and add a comment to your post that catches the attention of followers and makes them think. Reach out to other influencers on Twitter. Your influence on social media will quickly become apparent when your number of followers increases.
Seek Opportunities for Exposure
All smart influencers know the importance of seeking and accepting opportunities for exposure. This includes nominating yourself as a guest speaker or on a panel in your career, speaking at universities and colleges to future potential influencers, accepting television appearances, and offering quotes to different journalists in need of expert opinions. If you have the extra cash, it may be wise to hire a publicist.
Keep the Right Company
Surround yourself with other influencers and young professionals who are on their way to becoming influencers. Being around like-minded people provides opportunity to be in mutually beneficial professional and social relationships that can develop respective networks. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, challenge you and have similar goals. Don’t use people for their social or professional connections, however, as social climbing is easy to detect and “friends” can see right through it if you conveniently come around during Fashion Week, TIFF or before charity events.
Be at the Right Places
Young professional influencers are social people and are usually fixtures at the city’s must-attend charity events, media events, store and restaurant openings and exclusive affairs. They are at the city’s best restaurants – the new and trendy, the overpriced, and long-established and favourite YP hidden gems alike. They are always working the room and are dressed appropriately for the occasion and to impress, and subsequently end up in the city’s papers and magazines in the events section.
Sit on Charity Committees
Influencers are active in the charity world in cities across the country. Sitting on a committee for one of your city’s popular YP charity events means you will be surrounded by like-minded people, which will build your social and professional network. Even better, starting your own charity initiative increases your possibility of ending up an influencer because it is seen as admirable, reveals you to be a balanced person and inspires others to get involved. Don’t just do this in vain, however; get behind a charity that has significant meaning to you and one that you are passionate about.
To be memorable and influential, you need to stand out and differentiate yourself from the crowd. This can be though fashion, appearance and the way you contribute to a conversation and work a room. After all, when someone finds your business card in his or her wallet, you want him or her to instantly remember without question.