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Imagine Influence

The Influence Project that FastCompany is conducting is a marker about the meaning of influence in our time. From the project description:

Influence is not only about having the most friends or followers. Real influence is about being able to affect the behavior of those you interact with, to get others in your social network to act on a suggestion or recommendation. When you post a link or recommend a site, how many people actually bother to check it out? And what's the likelihood of those people then forwarding it on? How far does your influence spread?

I get this, and signed up, along with over 11,000 other people who are curious to see their influence. As I write this, my rank is 425 out of 11,067, in the 96 percentile. Are you impressed? Don't be. That should not be the point.

Let's look at this in a broader context of the world we live today.

The conception of influence that the magazine and the project designers have is related to clicks of a computer mouse. If I suggest that you vote for someone in a contest, like Katie Stagliano, an 11 year old who gardens to feed the poor, and you do, that is a demonstration of influence as FastCompany understands it.  I do see value in this as a way to communicate ideas, make connections with people, and make a difference that matters.

My issue is what the nature of the project itself. If I was to command the attention of 11,000 people, would I not want my influence over them to be more than to see what their influence rank is. The problem that I see is that FastCompany missed an opportunity to do more than some attention-grabbing marketing gimmick. For at the level of influence this project espouses to have, that is all it is.

Imagine instead, influence being not about mouse clicks to websites, but contributions to charities.

Imagine the benefit to the world if instead of your rank being based on clicks to your influence url but your url goes to a site that allows for donations. And the limit on each donation is $10.

Imagine, 11,000 people each donating $10 to a single charity for $110,000 going to that charity in a week's time. Now imagine, each person donating $10 ten times, and a over million dollars contributed in a weeks time. That to me is what influence is about.

FastCompany is trapped in an old model of success. That model measures influence by numbers. Number of people who joined. Number of clicks out to six degrees of separation. Numbers of new subscribers, presumably.

Go to the Influence Rank view and see who is on page one. Who are these people? Are they people of influence? In what way do they influence people? Are these people sneezers or are they just good connectors?

What I really want to know is what is the purpose of their networking.

Imagine The Influence Project being about change, about the difference a person can make through their network. This is influence that personal impact can make.

Here's my suggestion.

Join the project.

Play the game.

Treat this as a learning experience.

Gain a better understanding of how you network, and the extent you can engage your network in making a difference.

But don't leave it at that.

Activate your network to do something that makes a difference.

Tell your story of influence as impact.

Do so, and you will have taken a step beyond the gimmick to be a person of genuine, authentic influence, and maybe even show up on the cover of FastCompany in November.

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