In an ideal world, our ideas and projects would be accepted on their own merit. People would easily see the value that they bring and accept them as a way to move forward. But that is not the case in reality. As much as I dislike it, as much as I wish it were otherwise, we need to sell them to other people to get our ideas accepted and our projects moving forward. To succeed, you have to persuade others to support your vision, dream, or cause. And that takes influence.
No matter how innovative or creative your ideas are, they will die without influence. Influence with others helps us get things done. Influence with others gets their support. Influence comes from a combination of 7 different factors.
Influence doesn’t come simply from position, although that can buy you some leeway. And it doesn’t come from higher education. It’s definitely not the same as managing people either. Being able to influence other people means that you can have an effect on their character, development, or behavior. The imperceptible or indirect action exerted to cause changes. The word influence comes from the Latin words in meaning into and fluere to flow. So you can get them to do something willingly without resistance.
There are many things affect your ability to influence others but what underlies most influence is trust. Trust is something that is built upon who we are and how we relate to people over time. What do you rely on to build trust from others?
People can sense insincerity. That’s why used car salesmen have the reputation that they do. If you are only in it for yourself, you are in it alone.
The relationship is the starting point of influence. The deeper the relationship, the stronger the trust and influence. Enough of the right relationships and you become an influencer in your community.
When people see you as the go-to person for information, it’s because they have come to trust you. Knowledge alone won’t give you influence but without it people soon see you as a fool.
Intuition is the intangible of influence. Being able to read people and know what they need. This comes from experience and training. It is really about your awareness of others and being able to understand them.
Experience gives your ideas and projects credibility even more than higher education can. There is a common complaint that academics do not base their theories in reality hence the saying, “Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.” There is something that can only be learned by taking knowledge, applying it and then evaluating the results. That is where wisdom comes from.
Past successes and failures
When people know that you have been successful, they will respect what you tell them. They will see that you have good sound knowledge and advice to share. And people want to know what you have learned from your failures. They want to know how you have been able to move past them and turn them into successes. Being transparent about your failures makes you more human and approachable.
Competency is the ultimately why people listen to you. Can you do what you say you can do? Would you go to a heart surgeon for advice on how to fix your car? Would you ask a stylist about where to buy a house? We all have influence in our area of expertise. The greater the expertise, the greater the influence.
What can you do to round out your influence factors? Volunteer for projects at work or in the community. Serve on the board of non-profits. Stay current on industry trends and influencers. Invest in programs for your own development and growth.