If you want to become more influential, I always first advise pausing to think — but not for long. Unless you act, the thinking is likely to have been a complete waste of time. So here is something to think about — 23 things in fact. All of them are ideas you could do today to become more influential. The first two are mandatory, then select from the others as appropriate. They are all good ideas, presented in no particular order.
- Go and get a coffee and a notebook. Then spend 15 minutes really thinking about the ideas below and how they could apply to your situation. A little common sense will be required as you translate them into the challenges you face, but a little caffeine should help you stay alert to this.
- Make a firm commitment, to yourself, to identify three actions you can take today, inspired by this list, to become more influential — in the next 15 minutes!
So, with the first two actions already described, let’s move on to the main list. As you scan, note each one that you “could do”. Later, refine them to what you “will do”.
- Identify three Influencing Goals, which, if you succeed, will make your work so much easier. Stick with priorities. Most people only think vaguely about goals, and the more successful get them pinned to the wall with precision. Half the battle when it comes to influence is working out exactly what you want people to do, think, or feel differently (see Stretching Your Influence).
- If you’re struggling to influence a key stakeholder, go ask them why. Then ask them what it would take for them to say yes. Many people wander around imagining what it will take. The successful people use their communication and relationship skills to simply ask (great article on this point is Evidence, Intrigue and Fantasy).
- Alternatively, find someone you trust who knows the individual well. Get specific and ask them for their help — can they assist you in working out what needs to change in your approach?
- Create an interrupt. What are your opponents expecting you to do? What are they not expecting you to do, or perhaps, what would surprise them the most? Worth a go? See Diagnosing Opposition.
- Meet with your mentor and take them through your Stakeholder Influence Map. Not got a mentor? Get one. Not got a map? Get one! See Advocates & Enemies.
- Consider someone who is opposing or resisting you. Now in your mind enter their world. What would you do, in their shoes, to keep resisting your influence — what would you do in their place to stop you from succeeding? Get creative and see it from their side. When you enter their world you may be able to identify new options.
- What meetings have you been putting off because they are difficult? Take an action today to get it set up.
- Before your next meeting or call, pause and identify exactly what you want to influence by the end of the call.
- Translate your latest pitch so that it addresses the organisation’s declared strategy point for point. Fitting your working into the organisational context makes it more relevant and compelling.
- Write down the top three things on the personal agenda of your top opponent. How does your agenda help or hinder their agenda? What can you change now about your approach or the way you talk to them about what you want? See Handling Conflicting Agendas for more ideas on this.
- Rather than skirt around a difficult issue, tackle it head on today. Go on, just have a go. Usually these things are not as bad as you think they will be, and the sooner you get moving, the sooner it will be resolved.
- Write down 15 specific benefits you will receive if you achieve the influence you are seeking. When the going gets tough, we all need these lists as a quick reminder of why we are striving as we are.
- Write down a list of ten things you are currently trying to influence. Identify three that you can put to one side for a month while you reinvest your time on your main influencing goals.
- Think of someone you know who is influential. What can you learn from their example? Decide on one thing to start doing yourself today (see How to Learn about Influence).
- Approach a senior individual, find a sincere way to praise them, and ask if they could mentor you.
- Score yourself out of ten for each of your Personal Brand words, based on your performance yesterday. What three things could you do today to improve your scores? See Focus Your Personal Brand.
- Get that Stakeholder Influence Map out and do a full review!
- Offer to connect someone who is in need to a member of your network.
- Find a colleague at your level and identify a genuine reason why you could praise or thank them, then do it today.
- Send an invite for coffee/lunch to someone in another department you don’t know very well — “I’d like to learn more about the challenges you and your team are facing right now” or something similar.
- List three people whom you advocate most and find one way of promoting each of them today — yes, that’s three more actions! Which reminds me, take a look at The Power of Three.
Right now, review your list of “could do’s” and turn them into a list of “will do today’s”. And, keep this list handy so you can do some more tomorrow!
But wait, did we miss something? If you have time, add to the list of ideas so you can help others to become more influential too! All contributions welcome here.
Colin Gautrey is an author, coach, and trainer who specialises in the practical use of power and influence in large organisations. He has 25 years’ experience helping middle/senior professionals to survive, thrive and enjoy their work.
If you are ready to develop your influencing capability, become a member of Breakthrough Influence. If you are serious about becoming highly influential, fast, engage with Colin and he will help you get there in the most effective way possible.
Other articles by Colin:
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