What you want is influence.
You may not know that, but you do. You want it and you need it.
You want people to do something, say something, buy something, listen to something, share something, hire you, believe you, trust you, pay you, mentor you—you want some kind of influence over people, however subtle it may be.
To put it bluntly: we need other people. We need things from them in order to function, grow, accomplish goals.
Over the course of time, in every relationship, you slowly earn a position of influence. That’s how you go from, “Can I sit here?” to “I’ll pick you up at 7” to “I do.” It takes time. It takes work. It is a process of earning influence in that person’s life.
There are countless ways to gain influence, but here are the 3 over-arching principles to consider. Influence—or another word for this might be permission—takes time to earn.
Think about this: when you answer a call from a phone number which you don’t recognize, only to hear a voice on the other end of the line that isn’t familiar, and that voice begins to tell you about a product you don’t want/need/care about… what is your response?
You shut them down. Often you shut them down before you learn anything about the product, the offer, the special, the deal, the salesperson—anything!
The reason is simple: you haven’t given them permission. The have no influence in your life.
So how do you gain influence?
Well, I can’t promise you that these will hook the recipients of a cold call in 8 seconds, but I can promise you that over time, these elements contribute to the art of earning influence.
Why earning? Because anything worth having is worth working for.
Don’t just ask someone where they’re from or what they do. Be purposeful in this: look for ways to create agreement or alignment. Here’s a quick tip: people like to be right. Find ways to offer them this pleasure by finding common ground (however paltry that parcel may be) and build rapport by actively facilitating agreement.
I could write ten posts, or maybe even a book, on building rapport. Simply put: make a friend. Dare I say: choose to like them.
If I offered to come give you five cooking classes—FOR FREE—is that a great deal? Well, wouldn’t you like to know whether or not I ought to be teaching cooking classes? (Spoiler: I definitely should not. Unless you want to “cook” up some amazing PBJ’s, in which case, call me Emeril.)
Credibility is why we see “featured on,” or “as seen in,” or “from the creators of.” The translation is: “Here’s why you care.” The objective is to give someone confidence that you can deliver.
The concept is simple, but can be challenging to do in tactful ways. There is a difference between building credibility, and bragging. Don’t be so eager to build credibility that you come off as insecure. Trust me, I’ve been there.
If I haven’t said this enough, then allow me to reiterate: GIVE. GIVE. GIVE.
Give without expecting anything in return. Give because it is noble, because it is satisfying, because there is plenty to go around. Give because what you have received, you haven’t only received for your own self-satisfaction and fulfillment, but for the edification of the world around you.
It doesn’t mean you do everything you do for free. I certainly don’t. It does mean that you go above and beyond, that you concern yourself with the needs, desires, fears and passions of others.
Generosity is the new and most powerful currency. Generosity opens doors. Generosity is a great way to get the door cracked just a sliver, and earn the right to begin to build rapport, to begin to build a relationship, to begin to earn permission.
I encourage you, above all, to have patience. People don’t owe you influence. You don’t deserve it any more than you deserve money or a house. You can work for it, and the harder it is to come by, the more you’ll value it once you have it.
Think in terms of influence. Observe the various levels of permission that you have—and don’t have—with certain people, as well as the permission that you offer or deny to certain people.
When you find that you have allowed someone a certain level of influence in your life, ask yourself why. What specifically caused you to relent and to allow them to affect your life?