An Ex-Influencer’s take on influencing


I read this today morning http://getlittlebird.com/2013/04/how-to-influence-the-influencers-ask-for-their-advice/ and thought it was good advice . Influencers – they are an invaluable source of information to any vendor , and the good ones can help you do course corrections before you do something awful .

For a brief period , SAP considered me as an influencer . First as an SAP mentor and then also as a blogger . It also probably played some part in SAP hiring me . And now I deal with several influencers as an SAP employee, similar to what I did as an IBMer till last year.

I never quite figured out why there are multiple categories of influencers – analysts, bloggers, press , mentors et al. I am not a communications expert – so I trust there is some good reason that such distinctions exist . As someone who talks to most of the “50 shades of influencers” , I don’t personally see any difference in the quality of input I get . Maybe it is just organizational inertia to change an existing model .

In my opinion – choosing Influencers is exactly like choosing your mentors . It is never easy . It is a complex balancing act – you need to establish long term relationship with the best of them, but you also need to keep bringing in new ones to negate any bias . All influencers have some bias – which is why you should have more than one to begin with . However , if you stick to the same ones for an extended period – your chance of getting fresh new ideas will decrease quite a bit . And after some time passes, you would have influenced your influencers too much in reverse and will start painfully wondering why you seem to be stuck in echo chambers all the time .

In my opinion, it is probably safer for both sides to introduce a retirement scheme for all influencer programs . A change of scenery can do wonders for ones perspective . And if it is a planned activity, it will feel more like a nice vacation than a divorce . Sure you will lose a bit of continuity and comfort feel – but it is a small punishment compared to the doomed echo chamber !

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11 thoughts on “An Ex-Influencer’s take on influencing

  1. Hello Vijay,
    I have started following your comments on many topics recently. I like and agree with most if not all of your comments. I am just going to make some general comments here – not specific to this topic, but generally on SAP.

    Over the years, I have seen that the quality of consultants and analysts in the SAP field is bad. I get tired of explaining simple issues over and over again. Everyone says they know simple issues in relatively old SAP areas but they don’t.

    You had a blog about IT standards in India. It is very true and relevant for SAP. SAP provides venue for people to make more money. A lot of people without programming or science backgrounds get into SAP in India for opportunities. More than the background, it is the attitude & quality (which can be learned with experience). Some people don’t even have the aptitude and attitude to learn new things. Everybody wants to do people management after a certain time but they wouldn’t know many basic concepts in their areas. People slow down unnecessarily and look for reasons to stall the progress. They don’t follow standard IT or business processes. Their MO is to do as little as possible and get promoted. Some of the organizations are so dysfunctional that, such incompetent people succeed in promotions. It is really tough to find people who just want to do the right thing.

    Anyway, that is my rant :). I would also add specific comments to your blogs. They are very interesting.

    Shreeni

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  2. Vijay – “Ex-influencer” my big toe! Your blog and responses to it prove that! If one is “appointed” to an influencer scheme that does not make one an influencer (although you’d hope you’d be one previously), nor does not being part of such schemes mean that you are no longer an influencer.

    If you aren’t getting the value you want from your influencer group, change it up. Just remember many influencers are divas that won’t like that! Although some of your oldest (and perhaps newer) influencers aren’t helping you directly may cause you more issues if you don’t pander to them. As per Sun-Tzu “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.”

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  3. Pingback: An Ex-Influencer's take on influencing | Online...

  4. Very rightly said Vijay, the influenced influencing the influencer over a period of time, just like we think we parent kids but we get a sense of security being with them too and surely I am influencing my father now 🙂 . And yes there should be many influencers as the time passes, It is important to understand different versions of the truth or may be many truth and derive one new thing of your own to become another influencer and retire with time.

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  5. Great post – I appreciate the provocative ideas on retiring influencers. Do you find that in the end, everyone’s influence waxes and wanes? Like Jaret, I appreciate that SAP, in its influence, both educates and listens, and I really appreciate the approach SAP Mentors take that prioritizes serving a whole community of voices. In the end, this is the best thing about the Internet. Every voice no matter how small can have influence.

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  6. Vijay, Its an interesting topic to say the least. First I’d suggest to you that you are still an influencer! Perhaps not part of a strutured program anylonger but you’re very much still an influencer. I won’t go into a long winded explanation because its to cumbersome for a comment on a post but, from my perspective the distinctions associated with how an influencer is categorized is largely (imo) associated with the influencer’s business model. IT Analysts, Media (business / trade), independent blogger, etc, all have different business models and to a large degree require different engagement styles if not mechanics. Ultimately, while the content may be the same, the context and the way it is shared is (or at least it can be) very different.

    I can’t remember who said this but I find a lot of truth in this statement: “While content is King context is King Kong!” I don’t care if you’re a chicken or an egg – I do however need to know which one you are in order to engage you most appropriately.

    Jarret, Thank you for the kind words – muh appreicated.

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  7. Thought provoking blog Vijay and I would think the best influencers cross vendors as well as continue to learn and evolve which keeps them “fresh” and takes them out of an individual vendors “echo chamber”

    Having been fortunate to be part of some of the programs as yourself prior to you joining SAP I will say that SAP does a very good job trying to educate and at the same time learn and listen and kudos to Mike Prosceno’s group for their overall engagement. On a side note the SAP Cloud division hasnt even figured out how to move forward with engagement so it will be awhile before there should be talk of mandatory retirement 🙂

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