Class participation and circle of influence

I was in today’s operations class and since I wasn’t participating in class much, I suddenly started noticing patterns of applauses/ acknowledgement of comments. Some people usually get more attention than others irrespective of what they say. There are several reasons for this including no reason sometimes, but I want to explore one of the reasons in depth, which is the circle of influence. If an introvert or loner makes a comment in class, nobody bats an eyelid in acknowledgement of his views, where as someone who is popularly considered as popular gets a lot of attention irrespective of the quality of the comment. For the sake of this post, I will ignore the people in the B grade zone and focus only on the extremes, more particularly in analysing why people who get applauded get applauded.

How do you quantify popularity? Number of friends on Facebook? Maybe not. But let’s just assume it could be a reasonable measure for the sake of the following illustration. Suppose you see that two different individuals have the same number of friends, does this mean they have similar circles of influence? No. You go to their profile picture and compare the number of likes/ comments and the one with more likes most definitely has a greater circle of influence than the other. This is similar to how it works in class. So, what really differentiates these two people? The one with the greater circle of influence can be represented by an increasing exponential curve with circle of influence on the y-axis and number of connections (people/fans, etc.) on the x-axis whereas the other can be represented by a decreasing one.

The person with a greater circle of influence follows the divide and rule or eat the elephant part by part or the bath-tub strategy. He conquers one person at a time and increases his circle of influence slowly until the point where you’ve built your first circle of influence that will handle your PR going forward since the rest of your audience are driven by herd mentality  (

 and of course, I am ignoring the outliers here). One needs to be strategic about developing this first circle of influence and ensure sufficient visibility of this alliance to aggregate your herd, so that in no time, you have public appeal.

Now, the uninitiated try to mimic this strategy quite poorly and end up maximising the number of people under their radar with very little influence on anyone at all. Hence, they end up as exponentially decreasing functions. They know a lot of people yet don’t manage to get the level of attention that the other category manages to get. If you want to test my hypothesis, start with a a small whatsapp group (We’re all on 100’s of them and a little experimentation on one wouldn’t do you much harm). Start working on improving your rapport with each one of the participants one after the other and within no time, people will be dying to get you back on if you leave the group. Just saying.

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