How to Become Influential
For the past several weeks, I’ve been writing about landing larger clients. First, I gave you six reasons to target larger clients. Then I talked about how to land your first big client. After that, I wrote about how to prospect for larger clients. The next week, I said you needed to network your way to business person status. And finally, I showed you how to get recognized. Allow me to recap some key points.
- Executive decision-makers want to do business with people who can achieve their business objectives, not just build a pretty website, so you must think like and become a business person.
- Landing larger clients is more about who you know than what you know.
- Belonging to networking groups and civic, community, or charitable organizations is the best way to expand your circle of “who you know.”
- “Who you know” falls into one of three categories: those you can influence; those who influence you; and peers and allies.
- If you don’t truly like and care about helping these three types of people, you won’t be successful.
- It’s not just about who you know—it’s also about “who knows you.” That requires recognition.
There are really just two ways to become recognized. The first is to be incredibly charming and charismatic. The other is to serve people without expecting anything in return. The former is about style; the latter, substance. Now there’s nothing wrong with having charisma. It’s just that, if you don’t back it up with action, people will eventually see through it and move on. The secret to becoming truly recognizable and influential is to help others become recognizable and influential.
Become Influential by Helping Others Become Influential
Helping others builds your reputation, and ultimately, your influence. Reputation is simply what other people think about you (contrary to what pop psychology says, caring about what others think about us is normal and natural; it only becomes neurotic when you live your life based on how you think others will perceive you).
Think about how we behave towards those we find influential. I remember one particular person who greatly influenced and helped me when I was struggling to figure out how to sell my services. How did I act? Well, I kept in touch with him, read his articles and blog, asked his advice, and recommended him to others whenever the opportunity arose. I suspect you do the same with your influencers.
So here’s what you do. Find a person in your network that considers you to be influential and treat them in kind. Keep in touch with them, read their articles and blog, ask what they think, and recommended them to others. Become their “super-advocate.”
Now do that four more times.
As the first person starts to sprout some wings, maintain your relationship but begin easing back your level of support so you can look for another to whom you can become a super-advocate. The idea is not to abandon anyone; but as those whom you can influence begin to become influential in their own right, they won’t need as much of your help. They’ll have moved from “those you can influence” to a “peer and ally.” Now you can show them how to be a super-advocate to others.
The trick here is to support people who are deserving and appreciative, and weed out those who would take advantage of your helpfulness. Do this enough times, and watch your network and your influence grow.