We live in a time when the predominant thought is that we can solely express our opinions through social media. Having influence over people or communities is the ultimate goal of so-called influencers. In the last couple of months there have been so many, practically everybody has started turning to them for help. They have quite literally become the billboards of our time.

In our editorial board, we have been preparing the annual list of the most influential people in the regional meetings industry. The project started six years ago, long before the influencer invasion, which shows no signs of slowing down.

My colleagues have often asked me why we are doing the selection. My answer comes from the simple criteria of finding someone as your role model. Our colleagues are our role models, they know what they stand behind and have a clear set of values that they live by. We aren’t interested in people with the largest ego, but people with integrity. With this, we have to realise that real life relationships, as well as influencer marketing, is based on respect and trust.

The second question that arises is whether we can transform a certain person into a niche influencer. In such cases, we ask our colleagues to answer some simple questions. We want to know whether the meetings industry brings them joy and satisfaction, and if it represents a mission. We also want to know whether they can look past their personal mission and actually make a positive change.

The third and most important question is can influencers take the role of mainstream media and apart from consumerism, affect public opinion as well. It all depends on how relevant their content is and if it is prepared in a layered and objective way, covering all sources transparently. We are entering a new age of media content, where only quality stories are recognised by the general, as well as the expert public.

This is our thought process when preparing the list of top influencers. Some of them have become trademarks in their own right, relying on their good practice, charisma and philosophy. As separating the wheat from the chaff is always the domain of the readers, we have actively included you in the process.

Let me finish with a quote from an actor who has been an inspiration to me for many years and wrote this in one of his books:

“I find people greatly important. I always build a strong connection with people, as I find that is very important in art, the art of theatre. I find it valuable as a person and actor to establish friendships, mutual respect and understanding. That is immensely important and it has always been my top priority. Isn’t living like that art?”

Rade Šerbedžija

Yes, respect, trust, support and expertise are things that make you influential in the meetings industry realm.

Definition of Niche Influencers:

Niche Influencers tend to sit within the 5,000–100,000 followers range and have authority on one subject. They are highly trusted, but only on the topic they are known for. Niche influencers can create validation, authority and trade awareness for brands.