That’s the title of an email that someone just sent to me.

People who talk about influence should be practicing it themselves, right?

Michael Hunter shared this quotable quote with us: “The key to thought-leadership is building a personal brand based on authenticity. People want to follow people who they can relate to and who walk-the-walk.”

Jeremy Abraham  adds, “It’s important to understand that true thought-leaders drive engagement online and change offline which breaks the bounds of false status and inflated numbers.”

So let’s break this one down and see if they practice what they preach.

Take a peek over my shoulder to see my exact process to size up whether I think someone is worth connecting further with.

I have the Rapportive gmail plug-in (free) to show me their LinkedIn while I look at their mail.

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If they claim to be a professional, but aren’t on LinkedIn nor have mutual contacts, that’s a red flag.


When I click through to see their profile, I see that they’re a second degree connection.
The “people also viewed” section gives me a sense of the quality of their network– not bad.


As I scroll further, I see legitimate publication and the mutual friends we have in common.
We have 18 mutual connections. If you’re an influencer in digital, I’d expect at least ten.
And working for HubSpot, who has branded themselves as THE inbound marketing company, I’d expect no less.


Only 2 recommendations on the UMass teaching position and 3 recommendation on the HubSpot job.

Since these are both current positions, I’d expect quite a few more.

But then again, these are high quality recommendations, so that’s okay.

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When we look at their skills section, we see a lot of endorsements.

Easy to game this one, of course, by asking for them and by giving out a lot of endorsements (encouraging reciprocation).

Note that these are not as good as recommendations, not by a mile, since recommendations require real thought, not just clicking.

Only 9 recommendations total.

But the 7 given means that she’s certainly in balance.

Think of this like followers to following.

If they are following way more people than are following them, they appear desperate.

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Next most important thing to evaluate anyone who claims to be a content marketer or influencer is their site.

Here we see a nice looking site that has 5 javascripts (use the Ghostery plug-in).
She is using HubSpot (we check to see if they’re using their own company’s products).
And she has the Facebook pixel (kudos!), which is evidenced by the green tag in the Facebook chrome pixel helper plugin.

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When I look at the BuiltWith plug-in, I see her site is hosted at GoDaddy.
Not a major sin with a personal site. But if this is your company, consider something else.

The Google PageRank of 0 is not a concern, since Google stopped updating a long time ago.
But if her site has been around a few years, I’d expect a PR 3 or PR4 ranking.
Look at the Wayback Machine if you want to explore snapshots of her site.

The Alexa of 1.6 million means she’s likely not getting a ton of traffic.
But this is okay for a personal site.
Plus, Alexa is not accurate for sites not in the top 100,000.
And it’s easily gameable to tech and VC audiences.
Being in the top 1.6 million websites worldwide is still pretty good!

As you can see, I’m using the SideKick gmail plug-in, too– great freemium tool by HubSpot.

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Now we check Twitter.

Follower to following ratio is good.
But more important than that (since it’s easy to buy fake followers) is whether people are engaging with her content.

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Her pinned tweet has two interactions.
And her latest posts get up to a dozen interactions.
Looks pretty healthy to me.

Be suspicious of folks who have a lot of fans or followers, but zero engagement.

Having 12,300 tweets is not necessarily a lot.
Sometimes using a program to robotically tweet content or over-broadcasting of inane personal details (what you just ate) causes this.
Anum has done a good job here in balancing.
When you’re an influencer, you have to assume people who care about your content don’t want to consume too much personal stuff.
You want to have just a few personal bits to show you’re a human, but not distract from what you stand for.

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Lastly, my favorite way to assess digital strength and competency is to look at their Quora.

What content they choose to consume tells a lot about them, even if they don’t ask or answer questions. It gives me a sense of what topics they consider important and the direction of their personal branding.

The 91 followers is good, but isn’t necessarily meaningful.

There you have it– how I size up digital influencers who send me messages.

How do you score against this criteria? And how are you evaluating people who reach out to you?