Centers of Influence

Kevin Hogan writes about “The Center of Influence” in his blog called “The Resource Center of InfluenceCenter.” Here is an excerpt from his provocative article: (image credit to Kevin Hogan)

What most people who try to “be influential” miss is that they often tend to focus solely on the “Value Model” of Marketing or Selling. In other words – that people buy for value. This, of course, is a useful model. But in the strictest sense, it breaks down.

In my previous post, “Social Media ROI and Influence Marketing,” I quoted Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella.  In their upcoming book on “Influence Marketing,” they point out that “marketing efforts developed with a focus on generating profits often fail to consider the customer experience (italics mine) and ends up negatively impacting the generation of revenue and/or profit.”

Social influence occurs when one’s emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by other Influencershuman beings. Some people are more influential than others, both in terms of the quantity of people in their sphere of influence and the personal power of their affect on others.

Way back in 2008, a long way in internet time, Paul Gillin wrote the book pictured on the right.  Paul was a visionary who understood that the marketing game had changed.  The Canadian blog, “One Degree,” described connecting with social media influencers as “The Internet Marketer’s Secret Weapon.”

Relationships with leaders who are “centers of influence,” can empower us to take social networking to a higher level.  The “No-Nonsense Networking” blog says,

“One of the most important concepts in business networking is the idea of “Centers of Influence.” What is a Center of Influence or “COI”? A COI is a person who is in a position or business that tends to have great influence with prospects in your target market. These people have great potential to be among your best referral sources.


 Acquiring Influence with Influential People

After connecting with “influencers”, remember to make a friend, be a friend.

The Senior Market Advisor blog has a helpful post about “Finding Your Centers of Influence,” including the following advice:

“To produce a meaningful, steady stream of referrals, you need 12 “core” COIs and about 100 potential COIs. A center of influence is a person who sees or knows a lot of people, must like you, and is willing to help you succeed. Those core COI people are the ones you’ll take to lunch regularly.

In his excellent blog, Personal Development for Smart People, Steve Pavlina wrote:

To escape mediocrity requires that you surround yourself with the exceptional. Steal time from your mediocre relationships, and invest it in building new relationships with people you find extraordinary. Join clubs and organizations you’re just barely qualified to join.


Apply for a job where you’ll be surrounded by highly competent people. Join a gym that intimidates you. Volunteer for assignments that allow you to work with higher caliber people, even if you do it for free.

Once you meet such people, find ways to do favors for them. Give, expecting nothing in return. Build the relationship first, even if it seems very unbalanced in the beginning.



Beyond “Contact Management”

Contact Management Provides a Frame of Reference

“Contact Management” is like accounting. It helps to keep records, but we hope it serves to guide our performance. CRM software and web sites for organizing contacts in the cloud can help. However, actual engagement and interaction with our contacts is what really counts.  Contact ManagementCredit for the image here goes to Zoho, which offers an internet based contact manager.

My definition of networking is: ”leveraging trust and influence.”  We need to gain trust before we can leverage it. It takes a long time to make an old friend! Trust and influence are cultivated over time and are based on experience with the friend’s past performance. It is like building credit. Sometimes difficult challenges help you find out who your real friends are!

If all we did at a live “speed networking” event were to collect business cards, we might be better off with the Yellow Pages directory. It would save us time and money, and it would have an organized index! Have you ever looked at your stack of business cards and wondered who were those people? Do you realize that they’re wondering the same thing about your business card?

Can the Internet Accelerate Influence Development?

Certainly the internet enables us to contact many more people than we could possibly contact in “real life.” My question relates to how we can build trust and cultivate relationships and influence with those contacts.  

Relationships are based on shared experiences, reciprocal value exchange, and emotional rewards. I wrote a previous blog post about “Social Media Deposits in Emotional Bank Accounts,” in which I said, “it is wise to be proactive in making deposits before the need to withdraw arises, because emotional “withdrawals” are often unexpected accidental emergencies!” When you need a friend who “has your back,” it may be too late to make an old friend.

Engage and Interact

In my post called, “Engage and Interact to Build Relationships Online,” I wrote,

Relationships online are formed by engaging in conversations and interacting. Commenting on another person’s posts or status updates is just as important as posting your own content. Following up and responding to the comments of others gives them attention and recognition, which are important human needs.

If you want to win friends and influence people, it is actually more effective to be interested than to be interesting! Listening and “paying” attention is a usually a profitable investment. Commenting on blogs, like this one, is another good investment! 😉   Notice the  “Comment Luv” plugin below. We might become real friends and allies!

Alliances, Tribes, and Social Syndication

InterdependenceInternet Tribes

Alliances, tribes, and virtual teams are currently popular among internet marketers. SEO has incentivized reciprocal tribe syndication beyond the normal reasons to cooperate.  A Like for a Like, etc.  Personally I have been wrestling with my entrepreneurial tendency to focus on my own creative projects, rather than to contributing a lot of time as a team player.

Please don’t get me wrong; I love helping people as much as the Lone Ranger did. And I have always understood the values of synergy and leverage (the essence of networking), but I was usually the team leader or the “Chief of the Tribe,” if you will. I have never been inclined to be a groupie, and yet I respect the power of tribal alliances.  For me, joining someone else’s tribe “takes some getting used to.” I try to do my part…

Synergy and Leverage

The whole internet itself is a giant showcase of synergy. It began as a “free-world” defense network, evolved into a free global information resource, and then in the nineties was colonized (no pun intended) by individual enterprise. By 1998 eCommerce was the next big thing. In the gold rush of the dot-com bubble, competition was king. I think the 21st Century has brought more appreciation for the synergy of social alliances.


On my other blog I wrote about, “Interdependence vs. Independence Reconsidered.”

In his best-selling book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote:

Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players.”

Examples of Interdependent Relationships

Entrepreneurs need capital and capitalists need investments. Landlords and tenants need each other. Doctors need patients who need doctors. Teachers need students and vice versa. One of the hottest topics in the news is the creation or loss of “Jobs.” Employees need employers who need employees.  Sellers of houses need buyers who need houses. Leaders need followers who need leaders.

In network marketing organizations, the “downline” need “upline” for training and support and assistance with presentations. Upline leaders need downline followers to expand their network of contacts.

Choose Your Partners Carefully

On my other blog,, I suggested to carefully “Choose Your Partners.” I wrote:

Social media allow us to get to know each other before we decide to do business together. This is one of the things I like about network marketing too. We can choose to work with whomever we want.

“Partnering” for blog syndication, traffic generation, or for network marketing may be less risky than partnering in traditional business, but it still involves mutual commitments, expectations, and interdependence.

The 80/20 Rule

Even with the leverage of internet tools our time and energy is limited, so it is wise to consider the 80/20 Rule and be somewhat discriminating in choosing partners.

Realistically, do we have to sacrifice quality for quantity?

On my other blog I wrote about “Quantity vs. Quality in Social Media Relationships.”  I assume that most people would like to increase BOTH the quantity AND the quality of their relationships through the leverage of social media. This goal presents challenges, because time (life) and attention have finite dimensions.  Is there a limit to how much time and attention we can devote to relationships?

It is an understatement to say that the internet is full of examples of synergy and leverage. The image above is from the Interdependence Project blog. What are YOUR THOUGHTS about interdependence vs. independence? Please share your comments below. (Bloggers need commentators)   ;-)