In my last post, I mentioned three of the main foundational building blocks of influence: competence, clarity, and relationships.
I’ve already covered the first two -- competence and clarity -- on Friday.
Let’s talk relationships as they factor into influence. Of course, we are influenced by people we don’t even know and have no relationships with -- the famous, the historic, the uber-rich or successful, the beautiful, and the talented.
I’m sometimes amazed at how much influence others can wield over us based solely on what we’ve heard about them. Witness the popularity and ongoing effectiveness of celebrity endorsements, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
But when it comes to people that we do know -- particularly those we work or do business with -- the most powerful weapons in our influencing arsenal are relationships.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, or read any of my books, you already know that I’m a huge proponent of building ongoing relationships based on trust, mutual interest (win-win) and strong communication skills.
The stronger the trust you have built with others, the stronger your influence will be with them. Get to know people who have influence in your area, or those whom you need to influence. Find out who they are, what they do, and what their interests and challenges are. Stay in touch over time to continue building these relationships.
One caveat: When it comes to building relationships, if you are only focused on what you want from others or what they can do for you, in essence, you are using them. This is manipulation, and it’s not the way to wield influence. At some level, we all know (and resent) being used or manipulated.
Instead, find ways to give to others, whether it’s a link to an article they might need or a good word at the right time. Relationships can be superficial and still be mutually beneficial -- i.e., both parties are aware they are building a relationship for the sole purpose of furthering their careers.
If you are truly interested in others, they will feel it and know it is genuine. You might find yourself with true friends and allies who will enhance your life -- or mentors who will come to mean a great deal to you over time.
However you choose to go about building relationships, remember that trust and respect are vital.
Here are seven reminders about building effective relationships:
- Keep in touch over time.
- Do what you say you’ll do.
- Don’t gossip or badmouth others.
- Keep confidences.
- Learn to listen and ask questions.
- Look for the win-win. It’s not just about you.
- Remember, you are dealing with people -- people who have their own interests, goals, concerns and desires. Respect them, and you will be respected as well.
Focus on building effective relationships, and your competence and clarity of purporse -- the three building blocks of influencing without authority -- and you will see your influence with others soar.