Forget Insta - Be a Real Influencer

Find out from our Head of Coaching and Consultancy, Iole Matthews, how to be more influential at work

Do you want your life to flow more easily and find support for your ambitions, be they big or small, at work or at home? Being able to influence others can be a game changer and regardless of whether you think you can or can't, it's worth keeping a few tips and tricks in your back pocket.

I spent many years as an external consultant working on complex programmes in which success depended on driving change without access to any real authority or control and so influence was the only thing left. And during that time, I realised that there were three, possibly unconscious, questions that flash through people's minds when they decide whether to go along with someone's ideas or suggestions or at least be open to hearing a new opinion.

  • Do I know you?
  • Do I like you?
  • Do I trust you?

Get 3 ticks and you can be pretty confident of being able to influence that person.

In his book "Persuasion Equation" Mark Rogers defines "persuasion" as an action and "influence" as a state or a condition, with the ability to persuade depending significantly on your influence, which has precious little to do with your title or ranking in an organisation. I agree, and I've found that one could build one's "influence quotient" by working on three things:

Who you know - one way to increase your likelihood of ticking the first box is to build visibility by having wide networks. Be the one to say hello, ask for help (neuroscience says this helps to build trust) and also help others, step outside both your circle and your perceived limits.

Who you are - it helps to be liked and a growing body of research suggests that the way to influence - and to lead - is to begin with warmth. Be yourself and be kind; empathy and authenticity help and are easier to maintain over time than a mask of perfection. Be generous, listen more, and where you can, share information and look for ways to connect people within your networks.

What you do - build trust by being consistent and reliable, do what you say you'll do, deliver more than you promise and keep growing by developing your skills, staying up to date, reading widely and reading deeply (in your area).

You don't need all three to be more influential - just one will make a difference - but go for all three and you're on your way to a superpower!