If you can attract the favourable attention of the people who matter most in your work, and your life, you have overcome one of the main challenges faced by many people I talk to these days. Most new clients joining the Breakthrough Influence coaching programme have getting noticed by the right people as a high priority.
For those who are ambitious, this is normal. They have recognised that if they can get the support of their most senior stakeholders, their ideas will be able to start moving in the right direction. Doors will be opened, and then they can just walk on through and deliver something valued and appreciated by the top people.
As with many things in the world of influence, a simple process, a determined approach and a certain amount of tenacity can do the trick.
Here are seven vital steps you need to work through, either quickly or slowly, depending on your need for speed or quality.
Step No. 1: Clarify why you want attention.
Don’t make the mistake of taking this for granted, spell it out.
What is it that you want? Promotion, pay rise, recognition, new opportunities? Okay, maybe you want all of those. But, the more things you are focused on trying to get, the less focused you will be on any one thing.
Focus in finite. Without focus you are going to lose ground. Progress will be slower.
Pause for a moment and write down all the potential reasons why, and then single out one goal above all else that will be worth focusing on.
Step No. 2: Identify who you want attention from.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
Well, don’t be complacent (careless) and miss this step.
Why? If you target the wrong people you will be wasting a lot of time, effort and motivation.
Based on what you have chosen to focus on, identify the powerful people who are most likely to be able to help you achieve your goal, and by implication, those whose attention will be most valuable to you.
For instance, if you are gunning for promotion, is it really within the gift of your boss to make that happen? Many promotions happen sideways and up rather than straight up the line. Therefore, you may wish to attract the attention of the peers of your boss’ boss. Curiously, when they start to show an interest in you, your boss is likely to take more notice of you too.
Write down a list of those who are most likely to be able to help you to get what you want, and make these the target of your attention attracting work.
Step No. 3: Determine their agenda, both professional and personal.
Here’s the nub of it. If you want to get on someone’s agenda, you need to know what is already there – i.e. what you must compete with. People have a finite amount of time, and will naturally be drawn to things that support the goals that they have within their sights.
Provided you are already familiar with the individual(s) you are targeting, you can get off to a flying start here (and yes, you need to do this for everyone you have within your sights).
Try to make a list of all the items on their professional agenda. What are they trying to make happen with their work? What are their stakeholders expecting them to deliver? What have they published about their strategy?
Then add to this the more personal items you can discover. Perhaps, like you, they are ambitious and trying to get promoted. Maybe they are also struggling to get the attention of their bosses.
There can be an incredible amount of detail to discover here, so you’ll have to put your detective hat on for a while and go figure it out. It helps to talk to people too, although you may not wish to ask direct questions. Use your intelligence.
Here’s another thought. If you don’t know what their agenda is, any attempt to influence is tantamount to shooting in the dark – guessing.
Step No. 4: Identify what will make a BIG difference to them.
Now you need to get smart.
Along the road of discovery about their agenda, you need to be identifying the big challenges they face, or the big problems they must overcome. What are they most excited about, or most worried about?
If they had a wish list – and they probably do – what would be on it?
These are the items they are most likely to show interest in. Whoever can grant them their wish, will notice the door wide open. You will not need to work too hard to get their attention if you are able to attach yourself to the solutions they are looking for, with a suitable level of credibility.
In short, if they think you can solve their biggest problem, or open big opportunities for them, they will welcome you with open arms.
Step No. 5: Consider your positive contribution.
Now the tricky bit.
The hard truth here is that if you cannot contribute to their agenda, you’re unlikely to get much more than passing attention, no matter how hard you try.
Look at it this way, if you are in the middle of a crisis, would you pay any attention to someone who wants you to mentor them, or get your input about their career choices?
So, the trick is to consider what you can add. This may be about swinging the work you do behind their cause, or doing something special to help them. But, it must be something that will be instantly recognised as valuable, and credible.
Here’s one example. A coaching client wanted to get the attention of his managing director. He knew the MD was under pressure to increase revenue but, by and large, the salesforce was at saturation point. What my client realised was that his own goal of getting a couple of extra sales people into one of his branches was falling on deaf ears. This seemed illogical yet on reflection, two extra sales people wasn’t going to make much of a difference.
My client realised that if he could make these two sales people deliver, he could probably do the same in every branch, thereby increasing the sales force by 30% or so. That would increase revenue and profit and resolve one of the biggest challenges the MD was facing.
It didn’t take long for my client to get his pilot off the ground with the MD watching closely!
If you cannot find value you can add to the big problems your target is facing, look for attention somewhere else. Sorry.
Step No. 6: Make a new impression on those who matter.
Time to sell.
Based on your work in the preceding steps, you know what you can do. Now you must work out how to sell this in to your target(s).
- What will your strategy be?
- What preparation do you need to do?
- How can you get the help and support of others?
You know the drill, now get to it.
Difficult to predict or prescribe here, as you know your situation and I don’t. However, make sure and consult a little and get ideas from others. You also need to make sure that you do not ignore the desperate need for conveying your credentials.
Before you offer something to one of your targets, make sure that you do all that you can to come across as credible. The last thing you want to happen is to be laughed at: What, you? How could YOU possible help ME to do THAT?
At the very least, you need to be taken seriously and given a chance. Referencing appropriate qualifications, track-record, experiences as you start to attract attention will be essential.
Step No. 7: Get busy and remain busy.
Well actually, just do it with prudent preparation, planning, and attention to detail. Don’t delay too long. As soon as you are ready, start to roll out your get noticed strategy.
Keep at it too. Tenacity is a much sought after characteristic, as is consistency of purpose. Take action, review results, adjust appropriately and get moving again. That doesn’t mean waver in your purpose, but adapt your approach as you move forward.
A Final Thought
Imagine for a moment that the person whose attention you want to attract is an airline pilot. Airline pilots have a serious job to do. They begin on the tarmac, focused on pre-flight checks. Then they take off, cruise and ultimately land. Once they’ve parked up safely, they either switch the lights off or start the process of preparation again. Very occasionally, they will have a crisis to deal with. At that point, everything changes very quickly and their training kicks in as they focus on a solution.
To attract the pilot’s attention, the methods and content will vary depending on the phase they are in. Try talking to them about passenger boarding processes while they are struggling to get the plane back on the ground safely after an engine malfunction. You will not get their attention, and rightly so. Similarly, you will find it difficult to get their time to talk about new life jackets when they are rushing to make their take-off slot in time.
As with pilots, your stakeholders have a serious job on their hands, and they are focusing hard, to the best of their ability, on doing a good job.
Getting attention is a delicate blend of timing, relevance and value.
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.
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