In the past year I have been able to connect with some pretty influential people. It was as simple as leaving a thankyou on their page and getting a response, or receiving a follow from someone I had Retweeted earlier.
Years before I felt I didn't have the 'chops' to talk to these people as I was at a small level of influence in their network. Thanks to the constant power of the internet, this is no longer the case.
Note: Social Influence scores are indicated by Klout.
It's About Engagement
Engagement. We hear the word often, but only a few actually keep it in focus for long periods of time. Yet, it's the constant engagement with our friends, fans, followers and people we are following that is actually the most important path when building our social network. Talking only about yourself will lose you friends, fans and followers because you are not engaging with anyone.
WHAT TO DO: Share other people's articles, reply to everyone and be personal.
WHAT TO STOP: Buying fans, sharing your posts exclusively and ignoring people.
Gary Vaynerchuk says it perfectly in his book The Thank You Economy (a must read!) with the line "No Interaction Left Behind". Even with his busy schedule of speaking engagements, web videos and more he still takes time to connect with everyone he can. Which is why it is even easier for someone who is relatively unknown to connect with another with higher social influence. It's no wonder Gary's score on Klout is very high:
Show The Real You
Another factor of social influence is to be influential in some way by showing the real you. It sounds self-explanatory, but only a few actually do this well. Being influential is as simple as sharing an article of interest, showing something exclusive to your fans or sharing your opinions about a hot topic. The people who can get this right will have the biggest impact, even if they only have a small amount of fans.
WHAT TO DO: Share interesting articles, show exclusive content and be opinionated.
WHAT TO STOP: Faking your persona, hiding from the world and sitting on the fence.
Jason Calacanis is extremely influential to me. He constantly connects with people by sharing videos through This Week In Startups, in which he works with a small (but growing) team to interview and connect with early to established Startups and also covers topics from founding to failure. He is very opinionated and real, and although I don't agree with everything he says, he stands strong with his views and that allows him to be bold when moving forward.
Be Humble And Confident
Being humble and confident at the same time can often be a challenge. But challenges are worth every second if you can better yourself. By listening to those around you and understanding where they are coming from with their views, it makes it much easier to work out where to go to next with your personal brand, business and attitude. Honesty is the key.
WHAT TO DO: Be confident with your choices, listen to feedback, thank people for helping you.
WHAT TO STOP: Thinking you're better than anyone, ignoring people who are 'smaller' than you, being afraid to say sorry.
Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) is very confident in his approach when dealing with other artists, fans and followers. He is constantly connecting with his fans with live video feeds from his house, studio and on the road through his Ustream channel and Facebook page. Even though he has a massive worldwide following through his incredible music career, he still shows he is only human when chatting to his fans live. He answers live questions from his fans and shows behind the scenes work directly from his computer. Occasionally, he will be opinionated when mentioning another artist stealing samples or not releasing a good record - which he will apologise for later after it causes a massive media frenzy of problems and mixed emotions.