I spent the last several days at the National Speakers Association (NSA) Influence 2017 Annual Conference. I met, networked, and strategized with some great thought leaders who are making a significant impact on a global scale.
One thing this experience confirmed for me is that the size of your influence is in direct proportion to the size of your audience. Put another way, the reach of your leadership is in direct proportion to the size of your audience – remember, leadership is influence.
As I listened to these thought leaders I kept asking myself what was it that allowed them to gain almost immediate credibility with the audience.
If you’re reading this blog, I know that you influence people. If you were not a person of influence you wouldn’t waste your time reading my materials.
I’d also bet that you would like to grow your influence. You want to influence more people, whether it’s your customers, your boss, your peers, or your team. But maybe you are thinking even bigger. Maybe you want to influence an entire community, an industry or a nation.
Below are some observations from this past week that I know can make a difference for you in building your level of influence.
Who do you know? Better yet, who are you serving?
There is a fine line between educating others about who you work with and coming across as an arrogant name dropper.
I could quickly tell that David Horsager from “The Trust Edge” was a thought leader when he took the stage last week. But when he shared a story about working with the president of a foreign country and helping the leadership of this country rebuild their trust, I found myself listening with even more intentionality.
This is called third party validation or social proof. If the president of a country respected David Horsager, then maybe I should respect David Horsager.
One of the quickest ways to gain respect with an individual, group or an audience is to borrow it from someone who already has it. If your audience respects a person you serve then they are likely to offer you similar respect. If this person endorses you, your influence with that person increases even more.
This works in companies and communities. Who have you served and built a relationship with? Whose respect have you earned? Leverage this respect to gain more respect with those you seek to influence.
Insight and Expertise
Every person has hopes, dreams and fears. When they meet someone whom they believe understands them and can add unique value to them, they will listen.
As I listened to Kindra Hall speak last week about strategic storytelling I was immediately captivated. You see, I also believe in the power of using stories to make a point. I have often said – “facts tell and stories sell”.
But Kindra brought insight and expertise that expanded my knowledge and provided depth to my understanding. She talked about the science of storytelling and how story telling is a co-creative process and that science has proven that stories actually change brain chemistry.
Kindra’s insight and expertise took my knowledge to a new level and inspired me to lean in and listen intently.
Become a subject-matter expert. Work to deliver value in a way that helps others achieve what is most important to them.
When people see you have an area of expertise and generously share it with others, you give people reasons to respect and listen to you.
We live in a success-driven culture. People want to be successful. When we’re looking for advice, we seek out others who have been successful. If you are successful in what you do, others will want to listen to you.
I was awestruck by Vinh Giang. This young man did not appear to be more than 25 years old, yet he is generating tremendous results. In 2011, he left his professional career to pursue his dream. In three short years he has built an online platform that teaches magic to more than 48,000 students from all over the world. He was also named the South Australia Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Vinh had my attention at his introduction, even before he blew my mind with his presence, poise and magic.
Documentation beats conversation.
Where are you generating results? Look for areas where you can point to successes. Find champions in your company, community or industry that can speak to the impact you have made. Leverage the story telling lessons I learned from Kindra and package those in to success stories and watch your ability to make an even bigger impact increase.
Influencing is a transfer of emotion. Passionate people are the people who change the world. People hear your words but they feel your passion.
Rise Performance Group is successful, in part, because I am passionate about our mission of helping our clients become more, so they can achieve more so they can ultimately contribute more. People feel the energy and want to listen. They want to hear more.
Each and every thought leader I met at Influence 2017 was passionate about his or her subject. Passion shows up in different ways with different people. Some people get very animated while others have a quiet confidence on their subject. What does passion look like to you?
Are you passionate about your mission? Do you get excited when you talk about your ideas? Use that energy to excite others and they will want to hear more about what you are doing.
You must give up to go up.
The greater the sacrifice you made to achieve what you have achieved, the greater the respect you will earn from those around you. That respect will cause others to lean in and listen.
Prior to becoming a recording artist and performing on the TV show “X-Factor”, Emmanuel Kelly was born into war torn Iraq and then abandoned by his parents as a baby. He was raised at an orphanage run by the Mother Theresa.
When I heard his introduction, I immediately wanted to hear more of his story. When a person has suffered and overcome, people are inspired, especially if they have remained positive yet humble.
You demonstrate sacrifice when you work hard. There is no success without challenge. The only place success come before work is in the dictionary. People will respect you when you demonstrate you are willing to sacrifice to make your mission a reality.
Putting it all together
None of these factors will buy you an ounce of influence if you do not care about others. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
If you truly care about others and work hard to demonstrate your competence through the five factors above you will see your influence expand.
Which factor can you already leverage to build your influence? Which one will you focus on improving?