Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Why and How Influence Works (my SxSW Interactive PanelPicker)

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I know this post is more a pitch for a possible presentation at some conference I've never been to, nor likely will (too many car events, not enough paid time off), but I had to sign up and vote for you just now. It's the least I could do in exchange for the shot of adrenaline this post gave me today.

"True influence flows from drawing together people with shared interests. This session focuses on the process of identifying areas of relevancy among your customers and prospects, building community, and allowing others to amplify your influence as you meet their needs."

Since I've started following you, you've managed to touch more than a few nerves. I don't know that anything has shot right through to the heart of me like this piece above. Part of me feels influence, or aspiring to be influential, is self-serving, but I understand that influence helps us do more for others. Influence maximizes the return on requests to the community at large to lend a hand, it inspires us to grab a tool and help build a better world, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It's a good thing, but I feel it should grow more organically. Trying to tilt the playing field or game the system is insincere and bad karma.

It's been ten months since I started my little Gearbox Magazine project and I'm still just as excited as I was the night I bought the domain. More and more, it feels like I've finally begun my life's work, my contribution to the world, my legacy - and you just described it to a T.

All I want to do is bring people together around shared interests on a global scale, providing them with meaningful, relevant content they get nowhere else, and inspiring a sense of community extending beyond platform, pursuit or place.

I could give a shit about influence. If I end up being some sort of influential blogger type guy, fine, but my focus is (this will sound familiar) connecting people and ideas and showing them how spectacular life is when we see how we truly matter on a planetary scale.

I hope I'm not the only one who got this excited about your post today. Hopefully multiple people get this excited every day. Even though I can't make it to SxSW, I will write those five questions down in my little book and chew on them for a bit. Hopefully you presentation will be available after the fact for download. :)

I think there is another question ( in fact there are two thousand years of questions on this topic):

[what if] everything you know about influence [is] wrong and what should you do about it?

I suspect we are still centuries or many more away from "understanding" influence (cause and effect and multiple orders) Whilst social media provides more data we are no where near imagining the model to interrogate that data let alone design ways to positively intervene to answer your question " What makes those who get it effective".

In other words what we measure depends on the way we model what is going on.

For example, you infer we will only know what to measure we we know what we intend - and infer that you set the course. This is a particularly modern and western view of how things come to be and arguably ignores the arguably dominant role of "influence" upon the influencer.

I have no doubt that curiosity and imagination will one day reveal how influence works ( and I'll put my money that we are all wrong - by there is nothing exceptional about all of us being wrong) . In the meantime, I think a precautionary principle might be useful - influence yourself before others.

By the way, I'd also add about influence "And very few take the [life] time to understand how it works.


@Tom - how does it do that though? There are droves of people who engage, seek feedback, and respond. What makes those who get it effective?

@Jeremy - most of the times, people's motivation is that; to be seen and recognized in ways that feel genuine. Who knows, there were 2,400 proposals ;-) It was a good exercise thinking about how to construct the conversation.

@Barbara - your question seems to imply everyone should take the statement personally. Indeed they should. Only as long as it gets them to pay attention to their customers and the organic communities they may already have and not recognized.

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