Some people seem to always get their way, or at least is seems that way, doesn’t it? Call it luck, call it chance, call it being in the right place at the right time, but it happens. Before you chalk it up to an uncontrollable force, consider their ability to influence. Influence is one of those words that many understand its definition (“the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions,behavior, opinions, etc., of others,” thank you dictionary.com), but when you ask the same people how to do it, they struggle with the words.
I’m not much different, but I’ll give it a shot. Influence was one of the areas of development I identified during my first year working after college. While others have observed my ability to influence since before then, I couldn’t really put a finger on how you influence someone until recently. And it’s still a work in progress. What I can offer are some basic tips on how to put the “I” in influence so you can influence others in different aspects of your life, be it personal or professional.
Knowledge is Power
Flex your muscle, your brain muscle that is. (And yes, I know your brain is not actually a muscle, but work with me here, will ya?) If you can back yourself up, you’ll find your audience even more attentive. That doesn’t mean you should go around footnoting your happy hour conversations, but be able to back up statements with an explanation or proof. This isn’t just for studies that pertain to your major or work, but also general knowledge that’s good to know.
A real-life example took place when a Facebook friend posted a status saying they thought LinkedIn was a huge sham and they didn’t know why anyone would join. As someone who uses LinkedIn as part of my job role, I responded on their post, “Sorry to hear that you’re so frustrated with LinkedIn. We actually use it a lot at work for recruiting and have seen the number of hires from LinkedIn double for us in the past year without a major increase in our investment.”
We soon got into a (private) conversation where I shared some of my personal experience with LinkedIn as well as the growth of the network (from a LinkedIn update I had attended recently). By sharing my knowledge in conjunction with personal experience, I was able to influence her to give it a second chance.
State Your Preference
Influence plays a role in making a choice. Often time, there isn’t much of a difference between the options, which makes picking hard and influencing easier. Sometimes you can influence by simply stating your preference.
I’m on a global team where we often have to meet outside of business hours to accommodate colleagues from all over the world. Most people already know that they’re going to meet during off-hours, but don’t have a strong preference of when to meet. This is where you can influence the decision by simply speaking up and sharing your preference.
Propose vs. Permission
When you ask for permission, you’re giving yourself a 50/50 chance that you’ll get a yes or a no. Exert some influence by making a proposal instead. By making a proposal, you can flex your muscle, share your preference and almost guide someone to a decision. For example, let’s say there’s a conference you’d like to attend but your department has limited funding.
Come up with a few reasons as to why attending the conference is beneficial. You can also find similar conferences, but call out what makes this conference the most beneficial one. Lastly, instead of asking, “Could I go to this conference?”, ask in a different way and try, “I’d like to attend this conference. Can you support me in making this happen?”
Those are just a few of the ways I’ve been able to increase my influencing capacity during my career–what’s worked for you?
Sejal is a Recruitment Marketing Project Manager at Intel. She is part of the team that is responsible for Intel’s global employment brand. This team helps connect candidates with Intel and Intel with candidates using channels such as the Jobs at Intel web site, the Life at Intel microsite and other Web 2.0 channels. Sejal specifically manages theJobs at Intel Blog and Intel’s recruitment Facebook strategy. Originally from Toronto, Ontario (yes—a real, breathing Canadian!), Sejal graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with her Bachelor’s in Communications before starting at Intel in 2008. When she’s not working, you’ll find Sejal working at crossing things off of her Bucket List (which includes skydiving, reading 1000 books and traveling the world), eating cupcakes or spending time with family and friends. To learn more about opportunities with Intel, visit intel.com/jobs, follow Intel on Twitter @JobsatIntel or check out the Jobs@Intel blog!