How to Increase Your Sphere of Influence
Influence is the ability to effect change in the actions, beliefs, and choices of others. Increasing your sphere of influence will boost the number of people who hear your message, and that alone will have a positive impact on the bottom line of your business. As your influence grows, so does your reputation, increasing your value in the marketplace. More visibility and more credibility add up to more business (and more profits).
The good news is that becoming influential does not require wealth, beauty, or even above-average intelligence. The better news is that the more power, influence, and access to others of influence you appear to have, the more you will have.
The bad news is that becoming (more) influential does require some effort on your part, and it can be elusive for those lacking in personal integrity. Pursuing influence for the sake of self-aggrandizement or the exploitation of others is never a good idea, as people have an uncanny way of divining your true motives, and the backlash can be brutal.
Remember that to have the ability to influence is to wield great power, and that power should never be abused. To quote Spiderman's Uncle Ben, "With great power comes great responsibility."
Assuming you've chosen to use your considerable talents and influence for the greater good, here are my four suggestions for increasing your influence:
1: Connect with established communities. Join local groups, clubs, associations, organizations, and committees to access ready-made networks. Attend meetings, participate in the activities, and make yourself visible within the organization.
Even if you hate networking, you can connect easily with others online through virtual networking groups such as Linked In, Plaxo, Biznik, Twitter, and even FaceBook.
2: Make your voice (meaning your ideas, values, and areas of expertise) heard, through active participation in discussions (live or virtual), blogging, articles, letters to the editor, petitions, public speaking, private conversations, press releases, statements to the media, direct mail, signage, and even advertising. Start by establishing your specific expertise first, and as you become more known, you can add to your message.
Warning: Nobody likes a "know-it-all" and acting like one will diminish your credibility. Position yourself as an expert on a specific topic, and maintain your humility.
3: Cultivate relationships with other people of influence. Influence has a halo effect, so association with others of influence, such as leaders, "movers and shakers," or celebrities, extends your sphere of influence.
4: Choose to lead, and others will follow. The truly influential generally have "herds" of followers. This in no way implies that the followers are sheep, but that the leader is valued and trusted by a number of people?even those without a personal relationship with the leader.
To start your own herd, create a way for your followers to receive the benefit of your skill set, expertise, or efforts. Volunteer to head up a committee, send out a newsletter, produce an event or series of events, or start a special interest group to begin building your herd.
Keep in mind that you must give to get. The more you have to offer, the more quickly your influence will grow.