Influence is the art of people. It’s my favorite of the arts, because it is special, rare and something to appreciate. Yesterday, I attended the Top 50 Women of Influence in Houston tea. For six years I’ve had the privilege of knowing a handful. This year thirteen of my girlfriends were honored with nearly half of the women in energy. (Yes, ladies we ARE moving the needle.)
The topic of influence is important to me and it should be to you. If there is any skill you should build, it is influence.
Dad always used to say “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. A former colleague ,Dave Ketchum, gifted me Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People”. These resources (along with mentors and coaches) are seeds for the principles and tactics I’m going to tell you about today.
What is influence? What does it take to build it? How do you do it?
- Let’s talk about what influence isn’t, first. It isn’t title or money or power. (HUH?) Yes, I said that. It’s not any of those things. In fact, I’d argue it’s the antonym of those things.
- Influence is about not having control of anything and making something happen. (Write that down and hang it somewhere useful.) It’s about moving people without old-school ways of “buying” your way into the circle. If you have to swing title or pay your way in, who wants to be invited to that party? Lame and very 1980s.
- In order to gain influence, you have allow yourself to be influenced (by the right people).
- Executives and C-suites MAKE decisions. Your job is to influence. Got it?
How did you do it?
- I did a lot of self discovery and understood who I was first.
- I was open to new people and areas to learn.
- I looked for those things I wanted to learn out of others and then make a plan to find those people. (This is a lot of fun!)
- I used affinity areas (my passions: running, marketing, women, leadership, etc) to find like minds to connect.
- I divided my time in half: 50/50 to connect with people.
- I also choose unconventional places to meet people, connect and build relationships.
- When I met people I stopped “handing out business cards” and began truly connecting with people.
- Pace is everything. I am patient and built it slowly over time (16 years to be exact).
- I always gave something.
- I read (a lot). My favorites are: Seth Godin (Tribes), Dale Carnegie (Friends), John Maxwell (5 Levels of Leadership).
My one warning…
There are two kinds of people: givers and takers. Oh and women can be the nuttiest kinds. If you find yourself with a taker…run! Takers are only at the party to reap the benefit of your giving. They are narcissists. Their art isn’t influence. It is stealing ideas and business cards. Takers don’t build relationships. They build databases. However, takers always get found out. Be genuine. Just don’t go out of your way for them.
Dad was right. It is who you know. But it’s also what you deliver and who knows you. Now get up and get going. The world awaits your greatness.