Who is your influencer, baby?

IT Culture, Web 2.0
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One of the nicest things about the MVP Summit, and one of the reasons I pay so much and urge so many of you to go to the big industry events, is that you can surround yourself with people who are far (far, far) wiser and more experienced than you. In a surrounding where you are not being weighted down by the idiots you have to deal with for a paycheck you can’t help but elevate your game and start seeing things in a whole new light.

One of the things I have been thinking about over the past few days has been the balancing of the equation that contains trust, influence, reputation, authority and credibility. Number of techmeme headlines had been swirling around my head for weeks as bloggers start to realize that they are not the center of the world.

But this is not about bloggers, it is an important lesson for everyone that brings themselves online, whether willingly through social networks or unwillingly through the better search engine indexing of public records.

You can’t hide. But you can try to understand how the information is consumed online.

The fundamental lie to the Web 2.0 world is that it is not based on knowledge and credentials, it is based on the size of your personal network. It’s not what you know, it’s how many people it appears know you. It’s all about the size, baby. Those with the size and apparent large roster of buddies use it to talk about those connections and project the appearance of equality with their subjects. And the pile grows. They refer back to how so-and-so did-something-something because of them. It infers influence. Jump on the bandwagon as often as possible, love everything everyone else loves. It will grow your network of people interested in the seemingly everything you are interested in. Talk about yourself and how you’ve previously talked about it. To the casual observer, it seems like you have some authority over the subject. Traffic begets traffic, pretty pictures illustrate credibility, authority, makes you feel like you can trust them because the herd does too.

Then you meet them and realize… my god, this person is complete and total charlatan that is obviously out of place.

The bottom line is, knowledge and credentials still matter. Not in the makebelief world of Web 2.0, but in the real world where you make your money, feed your family, grow as a human being and hopefully cause change that improves you and things around you.

My whole point is that you should not get discouraged from what you do just because you’re an apparent peon and you don’t have a billion contacts on Facebook. You should not abandon hope just because your events are packed with hundreds of people lined up to take your picture. The big picture is far larger than that.

Trust is something earned, not something percieved.
Everyone fact-checks, nobody will take things on blind faith. (Web 2.0 religion opportunity?
You have no influence over anyone. Don’t lie to yourself.

What makes you reputable, notable, perhaps even influential is NOT an internal quality that you posses. It is an external, subjective opinion of people who choose to follow you, who believe that you make sense and can be honest and human.

Web 2.0 is not so unlike the Real World 1.0, though it is easier to lie in, reality is all that actually matters/counts. Don’t get lost in the clouds. (sorry, sorry, I know, bad pun)

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