Reach vs. Influence

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An acquaintance of mine was upset by a decision made by an event organizer.  They desired a different outcome.  The board of the event held a meeting to confirm the decision made by the event organizer.  The acquaintance threatened the solid standing of the event by leveraging his significant social media presence to suggest a boycott of future iterations of the event.  It was an emotional decision, and clearly, this individual felt strongly about righting a perceived wrong.  What they failed to understand was the difference between reach and influence.  Their message would reach a large number of people.  Nearly all of those individuals did not participate in the event nor did they influence future versions of the event.  He could publish a sensational headline, but few people would read the article or more importantly take action.

Mistaking reach and influence is common.  There are a vast number of channels through which we can contact our affinity group (Seth Godin would suggest ‘tribe’).   The essential question is how many people will act on our behalf.  I empathize with numerous challenges faced by individuals.  Less frequently do I take measurable steps to help them solve a problem.  People must believe what we believe and then see themselves as uniquely positioned to influence the outcome before they take significant action.

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