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Influencing others to achieve your goals

There is very little we can achieve without the help, support, and cooperation of others. So in order to realize your goals you need to be noticed, to make an impact and to sell yourself and your message.

We all have a natural ability to influence others developed in childhood. We instinctively figure out what ‘buttons to press’ in order to get what we want. But in adulthood it doesn’t pay to be too casual about this and we may need to test ourselves against the fundamentals occasionally to see if there is room for improvement.

Apart from setting a good example my top 10 practical tips for influencing others are :

1. Be authentic – this means you need to think about  ‘who’ you are, what you represent and be able to articulate this to yourself, and ultimately to the person you are trying to influence.  This is the first and most important point, especially if you want to build long term relationships.

If you are in business don’t  be tempted to slavishly follow some sales and marketing formula – people are more astute than you might think at spotting a ‘fraud’.

2. Develop a profile statement. Give attention to how you introduce yourself in conversation, in presentational material, promotional material, online channels / social media etc

3. Give attention to your message. Don’t be casual about this, give it time and refine it over time, tailoring it to specific situations. People can be quick to come to conclusions and you may not get a ‘second chance to make a good first impression’ !
 4. Know your target audience –  needs/pain points and what arguments will hold sway and who needs to be influenced. In business jargon we talk about the KBI – the key business influencer, the person who needs to be persuaded. Remember that this is not always the most senior person.

5. Choose the best communication method. Options include : arrange a meeting, wait for an opportunity to arise, phone call, in writing by e mail or letter, through someone else (an intermediary), formal presentation.  Which one you choose will depend on the situation. The key point is that you need to be open and flexible – it is not all about what you feel most comfortable doing but the approach that has the best chance of getting a result.

6. Timing is everythingWhile you don’t want to procrastinate there is a ‘right’ time for everything and you may need to do some research on this, but ultimately to trust your instincts.

7. Be patient. It can take  time to build profile and credibility.

8. Be persistent – ‘ if at first you don’t succeed try again’, maybe with a different approach

9. Be concise – brevity is effective, especially in the early stages, and it places a value on the time of your target audience.  But it is hard work – less effort is required to write a long rambling communication than something that is succinct and to the point. So remember that often  ‘less is more’. Get someone to review your communication material – especially if are only going to get one shot at getting your message across.

10. Look for feedback, especially if you are not getting the results you want, so that you can improve your influencing skills over time.

Finally, if you are doing all of the above and it is not working you may need to revise your goals. There is no point in continuing to ‘flog a dead horse’ !

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