3 Top Techniques for Reading Your News and Increasing Your Influence

One of the keys to being influential is to be seen as very knowledgeable to the people you are trying to influence. I am always encouraging the CEOs that I am working with to become experts in their industry and position themselves as  top “Thought Leaders”. So how do you do that?  Here are three top techniques to make yourself knowledgeable and then increase your influence.

In a series of three blog articles, I am going to cover these topics:

How to read your news and use sharing to increase your influence?

How to measure your influence and determine your strengths and weaknesses?How do you analyze the effects of your sharing in increasing your influence?This first article is about reading and sharing articles.  There are a lot of ways to accomplish this and I have tried most of them.  None of them are really great, but today I am going to talk about a very cool iPad application called Zite and how I use it to read my important news and then share it with the people I am trying to influence.

Zite is a very personalized experience.  Even if you and I both select the same topics, we will still see different content.  The personalization begins right up front.  After you install the application on your iPad, it will ask you to connect it to your Google Reader and your Twitter account.  It then scans what you are reading and sharing in those applications and present a set of topics you would most likely be interested in reading.  It then shows you a set of very high level Sections (i.e. Entertainment, Sports, Politics) and ask which ones you would like in your custom magazine.  It will even allow you to create custom Sections, which I did by selecting one of my favorite topics Virtual Work and of course the iPhone and iPad.  Then my personal magazine was “automagically” created.

Zite gets its content by crawling over 500,000 news sources and RSS feed.  It then indexes the content with an advanced sematic engine originally develop by the University of British Columbia.  The index does all of the traditional semantic linking and also identifies the social footprint of each piece of content by seeing how many people read, shared, commented, and Tweeted the article.  The top articles are then displayed in the personalized sections in your custom magazine.

Then Zite watches you read the content and engages with you and finds what is most important to you.  If you tend to read short articles that are about these topics, that is what you will see in your magazine.  If you tend to read long articles by this author, that is what you will see. Zite even allows you to help in the personalization. A sidebar is presented with each article that allows you to say “More Like This”.  It also ask “more from this source”, “more about these topics”, and “more from this author”. Zite monitors this and includes this criteria in your own personalization. This is very cool and very effective. The articles are actually very good too. Many of them are from obscure sources that I would never have found through a traditional news reader.

Articles are formatted very nicely and often include pictures and charts. The width of column, fonts, and layout make the articles very easy to read. Then Zite allows me to easily share content with my colleagues and friends on Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper, Delicious, and by email. Exactly what I would want it to do.  The sharing methods for each is done very well, especially the Facebook sharing and Delicious sharing. It is a really great reading experience.

So I have created sections around Startup, Entrepreneurs, Venture Capital, Gadgets, Social Media, and the custom ones I spoke of above. I read about 100 articles per day and share about 15-20 in the morning and 10-15 in the evening. I get about 25 new followers per day and a lot of retweets and mentions. In doing this for about a month, my Klout score has grown from 31 to 45 (I will talk about your Klout Score in my next Blog article).

Zite has greatly improved my news reading experience and provided me a great way to expand my industry influence. As always with a tool, I like to continue the innovation process and expand Zite with the following functionality, so Zite if you are listening, this is a wish list from a very avid user.

I would love for to not only tightly personalize the experience to what I want, but show me what that tight personalization has made me miss. Maybe a view that says these are important topics that all Zite users like and these are important topics for Zite users like me that I am not reading. This could be displayed in a “Bubble Chart” with the topics I like in the middle and topics I am not following around the edge. The size of the bubble would show popularity and the location of the bubble show how recent the topic was trending. The idea is to not only support the topics I am interested in, but to “discover” additional topics of interest.

I would like to see tight integration with something like Klout, showing me how my shares are increasing my influence. The URL shorting should be done with Bit.ly and then give me great analytics. It would show me my current influence and then tell me how to increase my influence.

I wish the Share button was done in a more integrated fashion. I often share one article on Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, and Instapaper.  In the current version this is 4 different steps. I would love to see a single share that capture the information and then let me select where to post it to on the Web.

Next week, I am going to post an article on how to calculate your influence using Klout, what you can do to increase the influence, and how get your followers to help you.

Let me know if you use Zite or if you have found an even better tool, let me know about that.

PS: Zite Cease and Desist OrderIf you read much about Zite, you will see that they were served a cease and desist order by several very large publishers earlier this year. This was over them scraping content rather than just showing the content in the RSS feed. You are seeing a lot of this right now and I am sure it will continue to be a problem. RSS is a great way to aggregate content, but because publishers want to monetize the content, they don’t want applications to just peel out the text and not display the ads. Most companies get around this by showing a “Web View” of the content and a “Reader View”. Zite has already implemented this. This is both a changing and controversial topic that will not be fully locked down for several years.

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