I saw a question in one of my LinkedIn groups this morning from a Sr. Marketing Manager about where she could find “a good training course offered locally on influencing skills?”
This was the first time I had heard the term “influencing skills”. It’s one of those terms that sounds made up, but it’s not. The more I thought about it, I realized that your influencing skills are your most important weapon in the modern always-on, social-media, follower, fan, comment rich world.
If you have a job that you don’t love, you should be trying to use your influencing skills to make it better. You start with the guy in the next cube over. You convert him and now there’s 2 of you. You have leveraged your influence to double the size of your tribe. You talk to your team leader about your idea, and win her over with your smart idea, but also the way you presented it. The fact that you bought her lunch while pitching her doesn’t hurt either. Now you can approach the manager with some momentum behind you, which gives you confidence, which helps you influence the boss.
If you don’t have a job, you need to polish your influence skills to land one. Think about the company you would like to work at. Do they already know about you? If they don’t, why not? If they do already know you, and like you, how much of a leg up is that?
What are influencing skills?
Communication skills: If you aren’t sure what good communication skills are, you probably don’t have them. Here’s two simple ones to keep in mind. 1. Listen intently to the other person and try your best to grasp the entire meaning of what they’re saying. If you are unsure of something, ask them to clarify that point. 2. Do not multi-task while you have the privilege of getting face-time with someone. Let the phone and email buzzes go.
Presentation skills: I don’t just mean PowerPoint, although that helps. A presentation can take place anywhere, any time. Maybe you’re out grabbing lunch and your boss asks you something about the pending MacGuilicuddy account. You whip out a napkin and explain it clearly and briefly. What you’ve really done is calmed you boss. You’ve allowed him to not worry about it and enjoy lunch.
Interpersonal skills: You are not an island. There are people around you that can help you achieve your goals, if they love you, they will want to help you. Interpersonal relationships are often based on just two things. 1. Trust. 2. Generosity. Those two points almost always seem to be tightly connected. I probably won’t spot you $10 for lunch if I don’t trust you, and I probably won’t ask you to help out on a cool new project that could get us big bonuses if I don’t trust you.
Seth Godin had a great post today that asked people who were ready to quit, to spend their last little bit of effort quilting.
Spend hours every day integrating the people you work with into a cohesive group. Weave in your customers as well. Take every scrap, even the people you don’t like, and sew them together. Spend far less time than you should on the ‘real’ work and instead focus on creating genuine connections with the people you work with. Including your boss.
Generosity extends far beyond money and time. Are you generous with your emotional labor?
The last, but most important part of becoming a true influencer is to be real. Growing your influence doesn’t happen in a day or a week. It grows stronger the longer you put forth the effort.