What if told you that I’m an “Influencer?” I bet you would not be surprised. But what if I told you that I’m an Influencer who doesn’t use social media to gain credibility and grow my business?

In today’s social media world, the desire to become an Influencer on Instagram or Facebook is a hot topic; the idea being that the more likes you have, the more growth you can create.

There’s no question that influence is a fundamental concept in both life and business. Regardless of whether you’re a politician in a position of leadership, an athlete with a personal or business platform, or a typical business professional promoting your firm’s goods or services, the ability to influence others leads to success.

Those who are successful Influencers – with or without social media – share some similar traits. Influencers tend to be trustworthy. They exemplify what it means to have integrity. Perhaps most importantly, Influencers connect with others.

Before we look at why you don’t need to be one to grow your business, let’s define “Social Media Influencer.”

A Social Media Influencer is a mainstream consumer who has credibility in a specific industry among users of social media. This Influencer promotes products and services of a brand. These individuals can impact the purchases of others because of their credibility or popularity with certain groups of consumers. Sometimes, companies seek out Social Media Influencers to influence others to buy their brands.

While this can be quite lucrative for some Social Media Influencers, it can backfire on both the Influencer and the company that hired her. We’ve all seen first-hand what can happen when Social Media Influencers cross their followers by demonstrating a lack of integrity by failing to disclose that they were getting paid to promote a good or service; they can get crushed on social media and even sued.

As an example, Kendall Jenner was sued for her promotion of the now infamous Frye Music Festival for which was reportedly paid $250,000 for a single Instagram post endorsing the festival. The unfortunate result of rampant fraud by such Social Media Influencers is that going forward, any endorsement of any product or service is viewed (rightly) as untrustworthy.

Macro-Influencers are people who have less than 1 million followers and Micro-Influencers are people who have at least 500 followers. Any person with 1,000 to 5,000 followers on her social media account can be called a Nano-Influencer.

But let’s take a step back here. I would like to turn back time for a minute and take a closer look at this concept.

Before social media evolved, being able to influence others boiled down to building relationships. For Social Media Influencers to be successful, it is imperative that they engage their core audience and strengthen that presence daily.

You see, influence is based on relationships – actual relationships, the kind of relationship in which a connection exists. You do not need to be a Social Media Influencer to influence others, what you need is relationships built on good will and trust established by honorable conduct on your part. In the non-social media world, if an Influencer doesn’t build solid relationships, she runs the risk of being written off as someone who is always only out for herself.

To successfully grow a business, you must put genuine effort into building your relationships because whether with family members, friends, co-workers or clients, only meaningful relationships count. Those who follow you on social media may or may not be loyal to you. In fact without a solid relationship, even if they “like” your post, chances are they’ll just move on to the next post about a cool idea, amazing product, etc.

Social media is disconnected, relationships are not.

Want to be an Influencer? Do what Social Media Influencers do: select your niche, understand your audience, be relevant in your message, have regular and consistent contact, share the brands you trust and most of all, be genuine as you engage with others.

Start with your circle of family, friends and co-workers and people you have a relationship with over the course of a day, a week, a month…who does your message reach? Who sees your authenticity? With whom have you established your integrity and trustworthiness?

Make a phone call. Send a handwritten note. Grab coffee and share information one-on-one. Reach out and make it personal – and be the person they trust.

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