As with everything in life, influence is relative.

There are some people who are proud to have “hit” the 500 connection number on LinkedIn and then sit back and wait for the magic networking benefits to roll in. Equally, people might buy 5,000 followers on Twitter and then wonder why they don’t get any retweets.

Influence doesn’t materialize out of thin air – you have to earn it.

Firstly, let’s start with the elephant in the room – numbers of connections or followers. Many would say that this is the key consideration on social media, and to a certain extent they would be correct. However, they still have to contain a good proportion of the “right” sort of connections. If you network is not engaged with your messages, you might as well not have any connections. There are a few bloggers out there on LinkedIn who have 10,000 connections but somehow fail to get more than 100 views per post. There is something not quite right there….

If you have enough engaged, connections, you firstly have to make sure that your profile communicates what you want it to. Every profile view could be a potential client, or a potential hiring company, so you have to make the most of them. Make sure that your summary conveys your personality as well as your achievements. Ask for a few recommendations from old colleagues. Optimize your profile for keywords – this will make a difference in being found. If you have a great story to tell, your profile is the place to tell it.

Then we come to activity. What you decide to do is key to turning on your followers or turning them off. Too much of the wrong activity will inevitably lead to your network “ignoring” you, so that when you have something truly important to say, no one will see the message either. There is also such a thing as too much of the right activity – you need to keep it under control. It is great to publish a blog once a week and actively comment on the blogs of others. The comments should be of the constructive type, not just “great blog.” This type of activity is the most productive on LinkedIn and Twitter because you are engaging with others – in turn they will engage with you.

In conclusion, you earn influence on Social Media by “giving.” Websites such as Klout, that measure your influence look at the engagement of your activity, not only at the number of your connections. If you engage with others, they will engage with you, not the other way around. Once you reach a critical mass of influence and activity, the growth of your reach will take on a life of its own. You will start seeing your updates getting incremental engagement, and new followers will flock to your cause.

It can happen with anyone, but it takes a lot of work to get there.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. Here, at LinkedIn, I regularly write about Healthcare, IT and HR. If you would like to read my regular posts then please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and feel free to also connect via twitter and facebook

Here are some Linkedin groups that I also manage

Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare Executive Exchange

Information Technology & Communications Professional