How To Influence – 5 Secrets You Need to Know
Knowing how to influence is essential to affect change and getting buy-in for your ideas. And don’t be fooled; this is not about title and position. Even without these, you can build influence.
Especially in my early career years, I didn’t get how to influence others. I shared ideas for improvements with my colleagues, but things never went anywhere when I saw other colleagues in similar positions making progress. It took me a while to recognize that I was talking to people who were not in a place to drive these changes.
Remember, you are in charge. You have the responsibility to influence everyone around you. It may sound daunting, but here are some helpful guidelines to influence people successfully.
Over the years, I have done many observations on how to influence, and simply put, it comes down to making connections, nurturing relationships, and building your credibility.
How to Influence Others: 5 Top Tips You Need to Know
Know What You Can Influence
Here is a bit of a reality check. If you have grand ideas for your company but you are a career starter in a more extensive and established company, you will be unlikely in a position to implement great ideas. In companies like this, long-range and strategic decisions are made by senior leadership.
But don’t despair. There are things you can influence, but it will be at a smaller scale and harder work. This could be, for example, an improvement to your team’s processes or ways of working on a project. Here you only have to convince your manager and your teammates.
From my experience, it is always true that influencing is hard work and about effective communication and give-and-take. But this is especially true if you want to influence without authority over other people, which is usually the case in early careers. Rather than a hindrance, see it as training on how to control by exercising how to present logical and compelling arguments and identifying fields worth influencing.
Find Common Ground
To know how to influence others, you must be very aware of WIIIFM (What Is In It For Me?). This means you need to understand what is beneficial to the other people you are influencing because otherwise, it will be tough to get their buy-in.
Be clear on who you need to influence for your ideas, and then ask yourself the following: what are their goals, responsibilities, and what would benefit them? Then ask yourself how the thoughts you are influencing fit into this. Without this, your request will only be additional work without benefit for them, and buy-in is very unlikely.
When you propose changes and look for buy-in into your ideas, this will often come with risk and effort for the person to be influenced. And this can be a significant roadblock.
The way to get around this, I think there is no other way than that, is to have a trusting relationship with them. However, this needs to be done before you need your support. Building trust means honoring your commitments, communicating effectively, and being helpful.
To understand how to influence, you need to know how the organization works. This is about the reality of how things are done in a larger organization.
I would recommend you closely examine the organizational tree and where you sit. Who are you indirectly working for, where are decisions made, and through how many people are you separated from the decision-makers?
The other bit is how decisions are made. Determine which evidence is required, how the decision makers like to take in information, and in which forum they are made.
When the time comes to influence, be strategic. Create a “power map” of the people who need to support your activities to bring them to reality. Determine if you can influence them directly or if you need others’ help to do so. Think about how to control them.
Also, think hard about the likely objections you will get and have good answers and evidence to overcome the objections. Are there people who might be negatively affected by your initiative? Think about them and how to handle the situation.
Your journey to a more efficient, fulfilling work life begins here. Join the Career with a View community today! Dive into the blog tailored for ambitious female professionals and leaders. Discover game-changing insights, personal anecdotes, and actionable strategies to transform your work habits.
Sign up for the email list to receive exclusive content directly to your inbox. Be part of a supportive community, regularly engaging with productivity time management tips tailored to your career journey. Don't miss out on the opportunity to elevate your productivity and achieve your professional goals.