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25 Traits You Need to Master to Become Influential

Posted on 3.18.2014

By Todd Crawford, Impact Radius

A tech evangelist. A Fortune 500 CEO. A big-time foodie. Influential people are all around us, and they usually have one area of expertise in which they excel. Despite their differences in topic and subject matter, influencers across the board tend to have similar characteristics. They do certain things better than others – not necessarily because they want to, but because they have to. If they didn’t, their influence would cease to exist.

We’ve identified 25 things influential people do well. Every influencer – from the Oprahs of the world to the local restaurant critic – has these attributes to varying degrees. And if they don’t, you can bet they’re working on them.

1. Public speaking. In order to grow and maintain influence, many influencers turn to public speaking. It’s a great way to get their face out there, and stick in their audience’s mind. Brian Solis is a well-known digital analyst and author – and part of why he is so well known is thanks to his many keynote speaking engagements.

2. Prioritizing. Influencers are able to prioritize the parts of their life that bring them the most joy and success, and minimize the parts that don’t. Matt Cutts is head of Google’s webspam team. He has just under 300,000 Twitter followers who hang on his every word because of his ability to prioritize Google as his main topic of conversation.

3. Small talk. This is like public speaking, but a very different skill set. Small talk means taking an interest in the small things in life, and making the person they’re talking to really feel listened-to. And one of the most obvious places to find a good small talker? Twitter. Take Mandy Edwards, for instance. She’s a social media branding professional who uses Twitter to not only share great info about her industry, but she also has frequent chats about the everyday with her followers.

4. Remembering details. Influencers have a way of remembering tiny (but very important) details about the things they’re passionate about. Michael Carney writes about early-stage startups for pandodaily, and what really sets his articles apart is his attention to detail – anything he deems interesting about the companies he covers, his readers also get to enjoy.

5. Smiling. Do a quick Google Image search for “Mari Smith.” Notice anything? Anything bright, white and sparkly? I dare you to try and find a picture of Mari in which she’s not smiling. Her friendliness shines through all of her online efforts, and no doubt translates offline too.

6. Persuading. Influencers are able to persuade their audiences of nearly anything (within reason). And it’s usually due to one thing: trust. Their audience trusts their recommendations, and so they allow themselves to be persuaded. An Influencer without trust is no influencer at all.

7. Confidence. Influential people have faith in themselves. Sure, they take huge risks, but only because they have the confidence that they’ll land on their feet.

8. Conversions. Influencers are able to convert audience members into clients – and fast. Take someone like Robert Scoble, for instance. He’s well-known for recommending a product or service, and then getting his audience to take action and become a customer. And the best part is, it doesn’t even feel like he’s making a sale – he’s that good!

9. Setting expectations. When people know what to expect, they’re less likely to be disappointed, and influencers know this. Influential people establish clear parameters of who they are, what they do and how they act, and they don’t make any sudden changes to this formula.

10. Energizing. There’s just something about influencers that makes your heart beat a little faster and your mind snap into high gear. They’re great at energizing – themselves, a room full of people listening to their keynote, a client, anyone!

11. Body language. Influencers act like their actions are effortless… and that’s a lot of work! If you think they’re always well put-together and their posture is picture perfect even at home, think again. They make a point to express themselves fully, in their words as well as their body language, and that’s a big part of their charisma.

12. Networking. Knowing who’s who is one thing, but being the who’s who is even better! Influencers are usually a central figure within a large, engaged network, and they got there because they worked at it. They built connections, fostered relationships and paid it forward. Folks like Sensei Marketing partner Sam Fiorella create Twitter chats (his is #bizforum) to network, and it does them a world of good!

13. Multitasking. Sending an email, chatting to a client on the phone and dealing with a crowded airport, all at the same time, is just another day in the life for influencers. They’re great at doing a dozen things at once, without ever letting a single ball drop.

14. Flexibility. Influencers have to be able to change if they want to remain relevant. Whether it’s adopting a new tool or altering their personal brand, the most influential people are flexible enough to know when to take a new stance.

15. Timing. Knowing when to make a move is just as important as actually making it. Influencers have great timing in nearly all of their decisions. Do they switch from Apple to Android? The actual switch might not matter as much as the timing, depending on the influencer!

16. Giving compliments. Influencers are generous people at heart. They dole out compliments all the time – and they’re usually genuine, too! Cheryl Burgess (@ckburgess), for instance, is a big believer in compliments, and it shows on her Twitter account.

17. Technology. Influencers always seem to have the latest gadgets, apps and tech at their fingertips. They stay on top of technology trends (or at least have people who do that for them), and they use the latest tech to optimize their time. 

18. Preparing for clients/events. Preparation is half the battle. Influencers don’t jump into anything blind if they can be prepared for it. Before any event, big or small, influencers will make sure they’re as prepared as possible. This might mean reading up on old emails, doing research online, preparing notes and taking calls. They’ll do what it takes to understand the situation and conquer it.

19. Travel. Influencers are always on the go, so they have to become travel pros by default. They use their tech and their time wisely while on the road, so not a single second is wasted… even in an excruciatingly long security line.

20. Reciprocating. Business is about relationships, and influencers know this. A great influencer will adopt a philosophy of reciprocity – they give as good as they get! In all of their business relationships, they strive to offer value in order to capture value in return, creating win-win situations for everyone involved.

21. Kindness. They know jerks don’t do well in the long run. Just being nice can go a long way in winning fans and influence. For a great example of a kind, but powerful influencer, visit Kristi Hines’s blog at Kikolani. Here, she gives away lots of free, valuable information to anyone who’s looking for it. She’s kind and helpful. And it’s this that has allowed her business to grow and propel her to becoming a regular contributor to several Power 150 blogs.

22. Balancing. Even if they don’t have work/life balance, you’d never know it because they give every impression being perfectly Zen. Influencers have a lot on the go, and the best are able to manage it all without breaking a sweat. Work, kids, hobbies, travel… they balance their otherwise hectic lives with ease (or at least they make it look easy!).

23. Always being “on.” Influencers know they have to put their best face forward all the time to maintain their status.

24. Constructive criticism. If you can dish it, they can take it. Influencers are able to take criticism in stride, and use it to make themselves better. They don’t respond to trolls, but if someone has a genuine criticism of how they conduct their business, they’ll listen.

25. Back Story. Whatever yours is, theirs is better. They’ve built their empire from the ground up, and that’s part of their appeal. Influencers are great at pulling the best parts of their past together for a compelling back story that could probably be made into a feature film (and maybe one day it will!).

Todd Crawford is a co-founder of Impact Radius and Vice President, Strategic Initiatives. He has been instrumental in forging and managing relationships with many of the company’s flagship advertisers, agencies, and media partners. Todd evangelizes a multichannel approach to the performance model, and is a frequent speaker at key industry events, including: Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Management Days, a4uexpo, and Performance Marketing Insights.

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