Here’s a fact: you’re either listening or talking, all the time. Every minute, every day, if you’re not the customer, you’re the product. And you need to decide, each minute (or however you break down the math, but you get the idea, right?) which one you are. The answer can be both, but almost never at the same time.
Or maybe you’re both, all the time.
It isn’t really a whole lot different than the old axiom about salesmanship; you’re selling, every minute of every day. But look at the issue from a different angle. Someone is selling something during every moment of your day. That’s OK, so long as you always understand which side of the equation you’re on.
Old friend and marketing guru Seth Godin addressed the issue indirectly in this post, the other day. And I bring it up here because Seth put it in a way that hadn’t ever occurred to me before. Always be selling? Nonsense. Always be looking for The Choke Point.
The Choke Point is that place where the things you do or say (or are working on) need to mean something. I’ve picked on Facebook many times as a conglomeration of a huge amount of content, but with not enough context to mean much of anything. That statement has always been true from the user perspective, but from Facebook’s side of things they hit The Choke Point when they were able to start running enough advertisements against the content you were generating for them to have a viable business. LinkedIn, as Godin points out, is running the same business model, albeit against a slightly better targeted audience creating slightly better targeted content.
Then, there’s Google.
Possessing as much data as they do, Google can manufacture Choke Points pretty much anywhere they want them, and then, just as quickly, they can remove Choke Points if they decide their interests are no longer being served. As Seth points out, Google Reader’s demise was a matter of them realizing they couldn’t quite figure out what the Choke Point they needed for leveraging the tool and the resources it consumed were.
Of course, Google is … Google. They’re unique. They operate by their own rules, because they can. Be honest; you’d do the same, if you could.
Influency is about creating Choke Points, and managing them. Knowing what you’re selling. Selling it. Doing so unapologetically, because without recognizing the need for Choke Points and executing their creation and use you couldn’t continue to do … anything.
Low Hanging Fruit? Sometimes, sure. But going after low-hanging fruit is a survival strategy, not a growth tactic. Pulling your resources together so that everything supports everything else? That’s the ticket.
Hit me here. Let’s talk.