Influence is not celebrity (although celebrities can be influential).
As we’ve seen throughout this long running series, influence is not a Klout score, a stock value on EmpireAvenue or even (gasp) a Traackr score (like we currently use in our automated rankings). Each of these is a useful way to learn about people and their impact.
The rise of social media thrust a bunch of people into the limelight before they had a chance to really develop competency in their professions. They’ve become interestingly influential celebrities in our niche; long on style, short on substance. That’s not all that unusual. It just used to be reserved for popular culture (where style always trumps substance). The early 2000s will be remembered as a time when celebrity was democratized and became a neighborhood phenomenon.
Still, the puzzle of influence remains worth studying. As a tool, no HR professional can get their work done without knowing how to utilize influence. That’s what people in staff positions do. Folks with line responsibilities have power and authority. People on staff have responsibility and influence. (This, more than anything, is at the root of HR’s status in most organizations.)
I took a 90 day break in the flow of people to the Top 100 list. After 18 months of relentless study of the topic (in this project and the related niche algorithms), it was time to absorb some new perspective. Josh LeTourneau has been kind enough to repeatedly insist that I was missing something by not considering Social Network Analysis. He demonstrates one kind of influence that’s hard to measure: annoying persistence rooted in being right. (Don’t you just hate that?)
At any rate, the underlying message in social network analysis is that some people are at the hub of things actually getting done. The key to practical influence (which is the ability to get things done without authority or resources) is to occupy a position in the network that gets the most done with the least effort. Generally, this looks like a small close inner circle composed of people who have broad reach.
It’s no accident that Trisha McFarlane‘s roots are in doing HR in a Public Relations firm. She is the next person on the list (number 77) because she demonstrates an astonishing combination of online networking, good grass roots organizational development, network finesse and working excellence in the profession. Anyone who happens by Trisha is inevitably pulled into her various plans and schemes for world domination.
When you look at her online artifacts (Blog, Twitter, Another Blog, Linkedin), you discover a relentless commitment to doing the actual work. In an era where influence is reserved for those who can afford it (and have the marketing budget to back it up), Trisha solves the resource problem another way.
“Trisha views her role of a HR professional as more than just trying to have a seat at the table. It is her attempt to guide employees through the work experience. She wants to become an integral part of their performance and sometimes, wants to be able to sing and dance right along with them. Trisha also does what she can to make the HR experience a smooth one for leaders and employees.”
After putting the kids to bed at night (she has an amazing set of seven year old twins), she gets some sleep. Then, she gets up at 4:00am to do her non-work network development.
4:00am. And her husband swears it’s every morning! 4:00AM.
So, what has she accomplished with no resources and no authority?
Trisha is the heart and soul of HRevolution, the network of HR professionals who have a social media edge and rely on each other for professional support. This is the ultimate social media driven grassroots organization. Charging a pittance for participation, HRevolution routinely hosts the next generation of HR Leadership in contexts in which they can get to know each other better. Unlike most conferences and conventions, the people who attend HRevolution look forward to being with each other and are happy to give up weekend time (and often their own resources) to be there.
There is nothing like it anywhere else in the industry.
Bill Kutik, the HR industry’s center, figured out what Trisha was doing when he visited HREvolution last year. This year, HRevolution is the opening event in bill’s HRTech week.
Trisha is particularly modest about her accomplishments (though you can see the PR training at the edges). She firmly believes that building a network of collaborators is the way one ‘evolves’ HR. She’s making it stick.