6 Ways to Become an Influencer at Work
Ever feel like your ideas are never heard at work? It can feel as though you’re at the mercy of what everyone else wants, but struggle to influence decisions and decision makers. You can turn things around by shifting your approach. If you do, you’ll also shift opportunities your way – promotions, better assignments and maybe even more money. Here are six ways to have more
1. See the big picture.
Influence is not just about knowing what you want. Even more important is knowing what others want. If you know what others want and focus on helping them get it, they are far more likely to help you towards your goals. Understand your company’s goals – not just your department’s goals. See the big picture and where you fit into it.
2. Rise above the fray.
With an awareness of the big picture, you’re less likely to get pulled into negativity and co-worker drama that won’t payoff. Set yourself apart by choosing your battles wisely. Why waste energy on situations that diminish your influence by making enemies or making you look petty? Always ask, “Will this situation matter a month or year from now?” If the answer is “no,” let it go.
3. Stay focused on solutions.
Many people focus on problems. You want to focus on solutions. Every problem presents an opportunity for you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills – and every company needs problem solvers! When problems arise, don’t go to your boss about it until you’ve answered the question, “What are three potential solutions?” Then when you approach your boss, you’re coming as someone who makes her job easier (and influences her decisions in the process).
4. Tap into unofficial networks.
Every organization has unofficial circles of influence – they eat lunch together, smoke together, take breaks, talk around the water cooler. Influence isn’t just about who has the big title, but who people listen to. Tune in and notice who the influencers are. Build trust and reciprocal relationships with them. Be interested in what matters to them.
5. Start small.
First, make it easy to say “yes” by finding small things you want to influence. Getting a decision maker to say “yes” once makes it easier for them to say “yes” again. So build trust by starting small. Then expand your influence from there.
6. Plan what you say.
Influencers are strategic. When it’s time to ask for something, spend some time – even if just have a minute or two – planning how to ask. When is a good time? What groundwork do I need to lay (do I need to get a few others on board first?)? What is the best way to phrase what I have to say so the other person will feel positive about saying “yes”?
Valorie Burton is a personal and executive coach, speaker and bestselling author of several books, including What’s Really Holding You Back? and How Did I Get So Busy?. Subscribe to her popular weekly e-newsletter at www.valorieburton.com.