We have spent a month of dismantling our notions of influence and rebuilding them to be rooted in hope, boldness, and authenticity.
Our influence is a God-given resource. It is something we are given and something we need to manage, to steward. Maybe we feel burdened by our influence, or fearful of it, or doubtful of it. We need to remember that even if we are letting it sit idle, or using it reactively – we are still using it. We need to be proactive with our influence, just as we do with all the resources and gifts that God has placed in our care.
When we are working online we can remember that our fame and our platform size doesn’t dictate our degree of influence. Our audience may be large, but if we aren’t engaged with them or leading them with hope, then our platform and voice are not influential.
If we are going to establish and grow our influence we need to be proactive with our influence. Here is a list of ways that help to do this with our online work . . . .
People might follow our work because of what we are doing, but they are influenced by us because of who we are. Being relatable requires many things, one of them is to be humble and gracious. Find places to meet your audience where they are, find common ground with them. If we want to be relatable we also need to get a little messy. We need to be a little more vulnerable to show who we are and that we aren’t living up to an unattainable standard. To be relatable we can share our lives (remember that you can share personal stuff without sharing private stuff) and be authentic in sharing our stories, our struggles, and our successes. We will let our brand be who we are, rather than what we do.
Influence exists where community exists. As we seek to grow our online communities we need to remember that we can focus on growing larger or growing deeper. When we focus on small sustainable steps to growing a deeper, more engaged community, we are increasing our degree of influence. Whereas, if we focus on spreading our reach and growing a larger audience, we may be increasing our sphere of influence but the engagement will be tougher to establish.
Whatever influence God has given you is the influence that you need to be responsible with, today. You need to love on those around you, love on your audience. Show them that they matter to you more than traffic and sales. You need to prove that you can care for what you have today before God gives you more.
We hear a lot of social media advice about being consistent in our posting and our social media platforms. It is also important to be consistent in your messaging, in your voice, your presence and your quality of work. When we feel like this can be an overwhelming thing, we can rely on scheduling our social media, block scheduling our work time, and being upfront with our audience when we can’t be consistent. Most of all we need to remember that all we do is rooted in our identity and when we keep our identity in Christ, we cannot waver from who he has made us to be and the consistency of our identity, or it’s digital counterpart – our brand will fall into place.
Influence is a gentle way of impacting others. A tool of influence is being generous within our communities. It means lifting others up in the online and offline space. Recognizing one another and sharing how they influenced you is a fantastic way to use and grow your own influence. Sharing your talents and time also allows you to serve your community and grow your sphere and degree of influence.
Your credibility will make or break your ability to impact others. If we want to influence others, we need to establish ourselves as credible. We can’t just talk about what is trending and call ourselves experts. We need to produce consistent high-quality content on what we know, really know. This is done not just by demonstrating our expert tips but by showing that we have been through the process. Share your struggles, your failures along the way, the passion you have for the issue, the properly cited research you have used, the insight you have learned, most of all – that you have stuck through with it and have experienced successes.
If you have a message and gifts and you know your role as an influencer, then be proactive about it. Intentionally grow and engage with your audience. Take steps to identify who your target audience is, research where they hang out, put yourself in front of them, and offer them what they need. Don’t wait for permission, or ‘to be called’ – you already given influence, as with all God’s resources, you are to use it intentionally.
Our influence is built up in being relevant. Not in being trendy or catchy – but in doing things that matter. Your content should tell stories that are relevant to your message. Your work should be about making positive impacts rather than a pageview. Don’t underestimate the value in every little thing you do and work towards making it all relevant.
If you are like me you know there are hurdles that you self-impose on your influence. You might feel safe right where you are and leery to take the steps to enlarge your territory. Be brave with your online platforms, put yourself out there. Guest post where you can, pin on every board you can, attend events and find community every chance you get. This will not only increase your audience and your influence but it will also increase a tribe of colleagues you can turn to and allow you to embrace the influence God has planned for you.
We can do many things at an ‘ok’ level, or we can do a couple things really well. God creates a world of abundance and inspiration but he does want us to choose. We are supposed to choose what is most important to us and invest ourselves in it. It helps us learn who he has made us to be and grow in that. Some practical tips to do this: find your niche, set a mission statement for your online work, and create an editorial calendar to help you roll out the journey you want to take your audience on. Don’t try and do it all or be everything to everyone, this is a form of striving. Focus in and dedicate your work and efforts to thriving in the one spot God has placed you.
Gaining influence means establishing and strengthening relationships. Relationships are the interface where influence takes place. To be relational online you need to be present and engaged. Choose one or two social media platforms that you enjoy the most and where your audience is and focus in on getting to know your audience there. We can also focus on trying to prove that engagement exists on our own platforms, but we grow our influence by participating in conversations and being genuinely engaged with the work that others are doing.
Opportunities to establish and grow our influence can come up many ways. There are many onlookers in your community that would love to engage with you, but they need an invitation. In fact, they probably need many invitations to finally pull up a seat to the table. Constantly be invitational in all you do. Put out the invite for conversations and interactions. Be an inviting place by being responsive and humble.
There is not a limited amount of influence available and we all need to hustle for a share. There is an abundance. When we operate with the knowledge that there is an abundance, we can grow sustainably and peacefully with that mindset. Share your influence with others, grow your engagement before you focus on enlarging your territory. Most of all let your hands open up to the abundance God has for you.
In order to establish and grow your influence, people need to be exposed to your content and know where to find you. You need to be shareable and easy to find online. Make your sites easy to navigate, make your blog posts easy to read, include social media links on your homepage, have social sharing buttons at the end of every post and make sure your social media profiles have info on where else to find you online.
Your influence is a resource from God, pray that he will give you the strategy on how to manage it for his glory. Pray that he will guide you in being responsible with what you have and that he will grow your influence. Give your hustle to God, let him show you the results he has in mind for your work and keep your hands open to him. Ask him to bring people in your life to walk alongside you, for opportunities to grow, for dedication to stay the course and for bravery to step up and embrace your influence.
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