Michelle Obama, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Emma Watson, Chiara Ferragni, Sophia Bush, Gretchen Rubin, Reshma Saujani, and Sheryl Sandberg are all influencers of our generation in all societal realms, ranging from political views to women’s rights to fashion trends. They communicate in a fearless and eloquent way that has the world listening. Of course, you may argue that it is easier for them since they’re celebrities or in positions of power. However, even though they may be receiving a lot of support, they are also receiving a lot of hatred and negativity. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for them to share an opinion or speak up for what they believe in without someone downplaying their intelligence with labels like “dumb actress”, “just a pretty lady”, or identifying them as a character they play or title they are in.
Despite the negative voices against them, these women rise up and remain influencers. As influencers, not only do they have the power to broaden our knowledge of an issue, they also have the power to affect the way an issue is portrayed by society. Brands and nonprofit organizations see them as a personified representation of their company and look to them for help in reaching out to their ideal audience.
These influencers started off as young women with strong values and big dreams. Do you have what it takes to be an influencer?
Here are 4 simple ways to become an influencer in your networks:
Determine Your Values
Each and every single one of us have core values as unique as our thumbprints. Although these values are not imprinted in our DNA, they may as well be since they are what determines you as an individual. Your values help you understand your way of life, your taste, your beliefs, and your social, economic, and political views. By finding out what your priorities are in life, and what is important to you, you are well on your way to a happier lifestyle than before. However, that being said, this process can take longer for some than for others depending on your personality! The best way to start the process is to start writing values down and what they mean to you. Create lists of things you love and things you absolutely do not stand for. Think less about interests (like hobbies or activities) and more about the bigger concepts (creativity, community, hard work). By investing personal time and energy into discovering what values really are and how you are looking to pursue them, you are defining and articulating what you really want in all aspects of your life.
Find Your Niche
When you have a better sense and understanding of what your core values are, you as a person will start feeling much more confident with your voice. We all have one, so we should start using it to better shape the world. A fantastic way is to start by determining what is important to you that you want to be an “ambassador” for. Whether that be digital marketing, culinary arts, pollution, or third world education, find out what piques your interest and lights a fire in your soul. Once you have narrowed that down, focus on that niche and find out what challenges they are currently facing. Join Facebook or LinkedIn groups and discussions, watch the news, read books, and attend meetups in your area that could help you broaden your knowledge in that area of focus.
Once you have selected your niche, it’s time to get confident and share your knowledge with the rest of the world. As an influencer, you consume, but you also create. The easiest way to convey your views and opinions is by using your voice with a blog, a vlog, or a podcast online. If you are looking to start a blog, head on over to Squarespace or WordPress for your platform as they both have great search engine optimization (SEO) plugins and easy templates to work with. If you are looking to start a vlog or podcast, you will need to invest in equipment such as a microphone, a camera or recorder, and any audio editing software that may come in handy. When you have selected a platform you want to work with, start brainstorming weekly content to publish. Use keywords in each and every single post to increase your SEO ranking online, as well as to ensure you are publishing your content consistently (i.e. picking a specific day to publish each week). In order to publish unique content, try to conduct research in your own area and own that data by converting what you find into something educational for the broader audience.
If you express yourself in other ways, maybe through drawing comics, dancing, creating short films… The options are endless, you just need to find what works for you!
Be innovative and creative with your content to get yourself noticed online! With so much repetitive content and voices out there, it is crucial to stand out. Once you have created your content schedule, start looking into creating social media accounts (Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram handle) to share your posts, attract followers, and build a community that shares the same values and beliefs as you.
Remember, no one will become an influencer overnight. You have to work tirelessly and endlessly to get your voice heard and your content shared, which could take years to do, but it doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Although influencers are supported by metrics, don’t be too focused on the number of followers or likes you are getting per post because that doesn’t usually correlate to a successful piece of content. Focus on comments, shares, and clickthroughs – because those are the key engagements that have value. With those engagements, build an authentic relationship with those followers! Respond to their comments and messages, say your thank you’s, and take time to check out what they are interested in. There are so many ways to share your content in today’s generation, that once you have outgrown a specific method, you can always challenge yourself with the next!
Trustworthy content has a balanced point of view. It asks and answers the right questions. It doesn’t love itself. It tries to inform and educate. – Steve Farnsworth
Help Others Succeed
If there’s something that you should know, it is that you will always learn something new despite how knowledgeable you are on a certain topic or area of focus. It’s impossible to know everything – but the good news is that you can spread your knowledge to help others. When you are an influencer, people look up to you for advice. Once you have built a solid community or network, it’s time to educate them with what you have learned on your journey. A fantastic way to build relationships and to help others is to be a guest contributor to someone else’s platform. Not only are you helping them grow with visibility, but you are also helping someone else reach their goals. This in turn can be one of the greatest methods to building a professional relationship in your networks. A second avenue you can look into is producing e-books, webinars, or mentorship programs complimentary or as a business venture. This would allow you to share your knowledge with people outside your niche while building more credibility with your personal brand. Last but not least, donate your time to causes or charities that you support, especially the ones that are local in our communities where a true impact can be made with your help.
Influencers are not born, but are made. Speak your mind fearlessly and stand up for what you believe in. As women, we need to learn how to use our voices before we think about shattering the glass ceiling. Although we have come close this past week with the US election, results show that we still have a long way to go, not to mention that women in some countries are still struggling to get by without rights, education, or a voice. It’s up to us to speak for them and to fight for them. It’s up to us to help those who are in need and to help them deliver their message. It’s up to us to come together as a society and to unite in making our world a place of equality. It’s up to us to be fearless.