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03/31/2011

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We've been hiring and paying people based on their "Rolodex" (Gen Y might need to google that)for years. It used to be the sales person's largest asset when looking to join a new firm... more so than skill or ethics. Many, many companies have "bought" influence by buying (ie: hiring) a sales person with a Rolodex.

Social Networks are simply the digital equivalent of the Rolodex.

So there is precedent around "paying for influence." The interesting thing is it is now outside the realm of "sales" and available for to the rank and file.

The key here (IMHO) is business impact. Does it impact the business - brand, sales, profit, advertising, etc.? If so - there is value and that value should be shared between the company and the one with influence.

But remember - influence typically sprouts from authenticity. If that person's influence is around your product and service - and they leave for a competitor - their trust/influence will drop - unless they can concretely point to real difference between the two companies that would prompt them to switch. Getting a loyal and influential following on SM won't translate well if I use it to leverage my own financial gain by job-hopping. So the company still has some leverage to keep the playing field level.

Great thoughts, Paul! But even in the days of Rolodex ... were we really paying a premium for their Rolodex, or for their proven track record in turning that Rolodex into business results? As you say - and I agree - it comes down to business impact.

Especially agree, that influence - especially these days - is irrevocably linked with authenticity and trust.

Thanks for sharing your perspective!

We were paying for the results - no doubt. But the rolex was the raw material they worked from. Same today. Just 'cuz I can do math don't mean I can do analysis. Just 'cuz I've got a lot of twitter followers don't mean I can convert to sales.

So I agree - but... having the raw material is worth something over someone without it no?

Paul:

Maybe. I think what you're suggesting is to value and compensate for the baseline raw materials of having a net of influence, regardless of whether it's been proven to deliver any value or not .... much in the same way we value and compensate for an engineering degree, even though the individual has not yet proven their ability to deliver job results as an engineer.

It's a sound point, but still... We haven't traditionally paid outright for influence, the kind obtained through face to face networking, lunches, coffee meetings, staying in touch via regular phone calls (and yes, scrupulously maintaining that rolodex!). Do we think that an electronic network, which often reaches much further and represents bigger scope, but can also be impersonal, inauthentic and tricky to convert into business results, ought to be treated differently?

Maybe. But I'm also reminded of the conversations I had with many secretaries and executive assistants - quite a number of years ago - who wanted premium pay because they now had to use a personal computer to type memos and correspondence.

Is online influence now a "raw material" we must pay a premium for ... or is it the simply the new ticket that must be punched in order to keep our skills and credentials current?

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