The Yellow Brick Road to Becoming an Influencer
Somewhere over the rainbow in the mystical land of Oz there is a person of such power and influence that people from all over come to him for help with their problems. Because of his vast influence and wisdom (and his giant green projected head), he is known reverently as “The Wizard of Oz”.
However, as we come to learn at the end of the book/movie, the wizard is actually just an ordinary man. In fact, he’s kind of a bumbling weirdo. His story is proof that anyone can become an influencer or a thought leader.
There are a lot of articles on becoming a thought leader or influencer that are full of vague tips and processes, making it difficult to gain a vision for how to actually make it happen. But there really is a set-in-stone process to becoming an influencer. It’s as easy as following the yellow brick road to Emerald City.
The yellow brick road to becoming an influencer has 7 steps:
- Know Your Quest
- Grow a Brain
- Build Others Up
- Engage in the Conversation
- Speak Up
- Present Yourself as an Influencer
- Be the Wizard
Naturally there are a lot of intricacies associated with each of these steps, so I’m going to write a full blog series on the topic! But for now, I’ll just provide a surface-level overview.
Know Your Quest
Sure, the end goal is to be an influencer. But with such a vague outcome, how can you expect to get there? The first (and most important) step to becoming an influencer is to decide what it is you want to be the world’s expert at. It sounds daunting, but with the internet you can become an expert in almost anything in an extremely short time period. Find a niche that nobody else is occupying and fill in the gaps. Make it something you LOVE. If you don’t already know what that niche is, start broad and then narrow it down according to your audience’s needs.
Grow a Brain
Once you’ve decided on your quest, it’s time to start educating yourself! Grow a brain by reading everything you can find on the subject. This includes blog posts, eBooks, case studies, first-hand experiences, and how-tos. Follow existing influencers in your field to get a feel for what’s hot, and where the industry is headed. As you read, make sure you’re applying what you learn to a project of your own. Your experience will be vital to sharing your ideas and getting people to actually listen.
Build Others Up
Why would other people want to listen to and promote you if you’re not doing the same for others? One of the best ways to show appreciation and build relationships is to promote the work of others. If you read a piece of content that you learned something from or thought was interesting, SHARE IT. Your colleagues will start to take notice that you’re following them, and they’ll want to know who you are and what you do. Those relationships will be vital when building your own personal brand. Who knows, one day they might just return the favor!
Engage in the Conversation
In addition to sharing the content of other people, engage in conversations with them. If you have a question or a comment after reading a piece of content, reach out to the author on social media or on the post itself. Most authors will be thrilled that they’re getting the engagement, and they’ll remember your name for later. When you start writing your own content, make sure to mention and promote others in your industry. They’ll be happy to promote your content if it also promotes themselves. Your conversations will be viewed by others, who may jump into the conversation themselves, or watch to see what else you have to offer.
No one will listen to you if you’re not speaking up. This means both in writing and in speaking. Every influencer is just that because they write about their thoughts constantly. The benefits of this are two-fold: You learn much faster and in-depth as you teach, and you start to get noticed. At first it’ll start out small, with a few shares on twitter and some smaller blogs and sites. Then you’ll catch a break and get an article on a bigger publication, and your visibility skyrockets. You become a regular contributor to top-tier sites, and get asked to speak at engagements and conferences. You’re everywhere! Pretty soon, everyone wants to know what YOU think.
Present Yourself as an Influencer
Once you’re confident in your ability to share what you know, it’s time to start presenting yourself as an influencer. Optimize your social media pages to reflect that you’re an expert in your field. Start outreaching to other influencers and journalists and ask them to share your content. Consider building out a personal website to promote your content. Write content that people will be willing exchange their information for, like eBooks and Guides. Start seeking out speaking engagements and opportunities to mentor and teach what you know. Who will question your claim to influencership? They’re already listening to you, aren’t they?
Be the Wizard
You’ve made it! You’ve followed the yellow brick road all the way to Emerald City, and you’re now the most influential and wise person around! But that’s not enough. Thousands, if not millions of people are now coming to you for advice and solutions. If you don’t deliver, they’ll just think you’re a fraud. So the process never ends. Keep reading, learning, practicing, writing, speaking, and sharing. Keep teaching and pushing the envelope. As soon as you stop, you’ll be passed up by someone else, and your influence will diminish, and someone else will take your place as the Wizard.
We’re Off to Be the Wizard
There are many strategies, tricks, and “hacks” to becoming an influencer, but all of them fit into this general pathway to success. Make no mistake, the path is not easy to follow, but it is straightforward, and can be accomplished by anyone. By harnessing the persistence and dedication of Dorothy and her friends, you can make it to Emerald City.