Ignore the ‘little people’ at your own peril

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As featured in Social Media Today.

The term ‘influencer’ frustrates the hell out of me.

While a select group of people who specialize in specific sectors may ‘currently’ shape opinion more than others, making them the entire focus of your communications approach is terribly short-sighted.

It is vital that equal treatment applies when interacting with all of your prospective audiences.

I’d like to provide you with a couple examples of what I mean and then share some thoughts with you about why it’s important to engage with people in a more balanced manner.

Ahead of the ‘curve’

In the last few months, I’ve been studying the social media activity of a few soon-to-be university graduates in the US.

The guys I’ve taken a particular interest in have been: Samantha Ogborn (@SJOgborn), Lauren Novo (@lmnovo) and Mikinzie Stuart (@mikinzie).

Now these guys have not even secured their first full-time jobs yet, but are driving conversations amongst their peers in a really meaningful and impactful way.

They are even making headlines in spaces normally reserved for communications veterans or pros (as evidenced by Lauren’s appearance in PR Daily this week).

Now, I’m not calling these guys ‘little people’ – in fact, I consider them the opposite – they, via the quality in which they conduct themselves online, are really inspiring to watch, and are being true ‘leaders’ of tomorrow.

If you were to judge them simply on what they have done, or how many followers they have (even though they have a few!) you’d be missing a big trick.

Who you are, not who you were

I think we get too caught up on where reputations come from.

What we are seeing now, which I love, is people developing relationships based on what they do every day and more importantly what they ‘could’ do one day…not what they ‘once’ did.

So, next time you receive a message from someone who only has ‘a handful’ of followers or a see name you may not immediately recognise, treat the communication based solely on what is presented, not what is perceived.

I guarantee, the guys you aren’t considering right now will be the ones you’ll be desperate to know very soon.

Your turn

Does anyone have any thoughts on this subject?

Are people judged more by a ‘perceived reputation’ as opposed to current production / engagement?

I’d love to know what you think.

Adam

5 Comments

  • Reply March 26, 2010

    Jessie Morris

    Adam, this is a great approach on more than one level – not only are you encouraging newer participants, you are also reinforcing the whole principle of the social web and its equalizing powers. Yet another example of your ‘internet philanthropy’!

    As a fairly new blogger (but veteran blog reader), it is so refreshing to hear this.

    Thanks for giving us a chance 🙂

  • Reply March 26, 2010

    Bruce Douglas

    From a ‘little person’: Great to hear from an advocate of students attempting to develop influence and start engaging before we’ve really starting interacting with social media or advertising professionally. I also come from several unfortunate instances of companies and HR not treating potential interns or entry-level people well; an instant red flag questioning whether or not these companies are looking for talent or just claiming to be “Committed to developing tomorrow’s business leaders”. So thank you for your blessings on Generation Y!

    My question for you, Adam, is how much an online reputation actually matters for aspiring young professionals in Mar/Com/Ad. We are constantly told to manage our online content and Google ourselves, but how much does it really matter? It seems that companies are often lazy and take the candidate with the highest GPA or most prominent company name, rather than really research their candidates and find out what those single characteristics actually mean.

    Do you believe that these things really have an impact for me and my peers as we career search? (I’d love to hear from your three student spotlights too.)

  • Reply March 26, 2010

    Adam Vincenzini

    Absolutely.

    If I was looking to hire someone tomorrow grades would be ‘relatively’ meaningless.

    You learn more in the first 6 months of your first job than you do at University – now, if you are displaying the skills to manage yourself publicly before you ‘turn pro’ you are showing me you get it.

    My ‘mentor’ always says that he only hires people smarter than him – and I completely adhere to that view – these guys will be twice the consultant I am because of the effort they are putting forward now.

    My favourite quote probably sums it up best:
    “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

    These guys are showing me that every day…I think that’s pretty special.

    Adam

  • Reply March 26, 2010

    lmnovo

    Hi Bruce,

    I feel that in this job market, personal branding is more important than ever. I have a 3.9 GPA, but my current employer doesn’t know that nor does he care. All he cares about is what I can bring to the team. I think it’s important to show that you are dedicated, smart, etc. outside the classroom. If everyone has a 3.5 + GPA, what’s going to determine who gets the job? And honestly, from what professionals have told me, a job candidate with a 3.5 GPA and awesome experience is much more likely to get the job than a candidate with a 4.0 GPA and not much else. Hope this helps!

  • Reply March 26, 2010

    Bruce Douglas

    Always great to hear feedback I completely agree with; thanks for sharing your opinions!

    Adam: You sound like an outstanding teacher for our generation, I wish I could get you in a room with every college recruiter nationwide.

    Lauren: We share the same story with our employers, no idea or concern for GPA. I have found quite a variety in the professionals I’ve spoken with, everything from “The first thing I do is Google” to “I only hire 4.0s”. Glad to hear someone else has found the happy middle ground too.

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