Bob Goldman
What do you call that pesky co-worker who will never leave you alone?

You know who I mean -- Jim in the next cubicle who has to tell you every detail of "The Bachelor" episode you didn't see the night before, as he tries to convince you that Juan Pablo is a jerk and definitely should give the final rose to Nikki, or the gal who corners you in the coffee room to expound at great length about why the real jerk is Jim because he wastes everyone's time with his stupid comments on "The Bachelor," and besides, everyone knows Juan Pablo should give the final rose to Clare.

If you call these people "pests," I would certainly agree. Or, I would have agreed with you, before I read "Office 'Influencers' Are in High Demand," a recent Rachel Feintzeig article in The Wall Street Journal.

According to Ms. Feintzeig, influencers are employees who are "well-connected and trusted by their peers."

And here's the interesting part -- because of their ability to sway co-workers, these pesky colleagues are not only being identified; they're actually being rewarded. Yes, influencers are getting "more money, promotions and opportunities to rub shoulders with top executives" (at least until they drive the top executives crazy with their nonstop chatter and are sent back down to the bottom of the org chart, where they can continue rubbing us the wrong way).

The reason for the new corporate love of influencers? It's the rise of social media, which has "highlighted the importance of networks," encouraging companies to "capitalize on the power players lurking in their workforces."

In other words, your bosses don't want to stifle the influencers. They want to use them to peddle the party line.

In order to identify the influencers among us, management does what it does best. It outsources the effort to consulting firms. WorkWise LLC is one such firm identified in the article. It has "helped Fortune 500 firms identify influencers and often focuses on how to retain them."

Another firm that "helps companies map their networks" is Syndio Social.

Checking the company's website -- hey, Feintzeig is not the only reporter around here -- I found a rather alarming example of one of the tools Syndio Social provides to managers. It's a graphic "Dashboard" that instantly tells executives who is on their side and who is not.


Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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