If you’re watching from a distance, some people really seem to get lucky. As you seek to grow professionally, you may be tracking the journey of others and wondering how they seem to simply wander into great opportunities. In truth, it doesn’t happen overnight, and the seeds for those opportunities were likely planted years (if not decades) before.
In thinking about my own career progression – from project manager to entrepreneur to CEO – the answer is simple. Professional growth can be directly related to the ways in which I’ve leveraged the power of nano influence. It’s a principle that can be broadly applied.
Reimagine Your Network
You’ve probably been advised to “use your network” to achieve career advancement. Before social media, LinkedIn, and other methods of digital communication, networks were built in a highly analog fashion, but the methods have obviously evolved.
As the concept of the nano influencer became popular, I recognized a version of it in my own communities. Nano influencers build a modest platform on social media and recommend products and services to their followers. Marketing companies recognize the impact of aligning with a nano influencer, since their followers feel such a personal connection with them.
Nano influencers have a great deal of trust within a small subset of people. They’re influential in a particular group, so their reach can be comparatively narrow. However, because of the relationships they’ve built with their followers, they’re powerful allies when it comes to convincing a particular audience to buy in.
Recognize the Power of Nano Influencers in Your Community
Though the term nano influencer technically refers to an individual’s social media platform, the idea is applicable to offline communities, too. When I began working in project management, I recognized the power of trust and relationship to motivate people in situations where I depended on their actions.
Influence is primarily about connection. Better results can often be achieved by approaching the situation as a trusted advisor rather than a designated authority. The best leaders are able to work both horizontally and vertically to resolve conflict and encourage cooperation. In a team environment, results are often highly dependent on collaboration, and people are more likely to take advice because they trust the advisor, not because they’re demanded to do so. Sounds quite a bit like the social media nano influencers, doesn’t it?
Achieving your personal career goals often requires meaningful connections within a small group. Once your community understands you and trusts your motives, you’ll have exponentially greater success finding new opportunities for growth.
Build Webs, Not Ladders
Interestingly, women have used strategies similar to the nano influencer for quite some time. To consider more about the power of the reimagined nano influencer, I remembered Sally Hegelsen’s book, The Female Advantage, originally published in 1990 but still ripe with ideas for today. Hegelsen maintains that women often build “webs” rather than hierarchies, relying on the authentic connections they make with others to help move forward.
In the past, women have been discouraged from using these techniques in favor of more typically “masculine” approaches that Hegelsen terms a “no-guts-no-glory macho leadership style.” However, the recent recognition of the nano influencer’s power proves much of Hegelsen’s theories in the wild; you’ll go further faster with influence rather than authority.
Becoming Your Own Nano Influencer
When you think about your personal and professional circles, who stands out as a nano influencer? How can you leverage your own nano influencer power?
Think about the ways in which you build authentic connections with other human beings in the world. Often, real camaraderie develops through the so-called “low level” interactions with people; chatting at school pickup, catching up at a PTA meeting, or watching your kids play soccer. Sharing a recipe for brownies often carries an unseen load of social trust – after enough interactions with others, we can feel our connection grow.
Don’t discount these interactions, and don’t create a professional life that eclipses all opportunities to get to know people on a personal level. We’re all human beings, and that human connection serves a greater purpose. Envision yourself as your own “nano influencer” within your community – for the purpose of growth and betterment for all.