Becoming a Person of Influence

Every year, Time magazine publishes its list of the 100 most influential people. The 2012 edition included names like Apple CEO Tim Cook, actress Viola Davis, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and 97 others who have made a major impact on the world.

It’s easy to think that “being influential” is only for the famous, but that’s not true. Everyone has influence. By definition, influence is simply the capacity to affect the behavior and opinions of others.

If you’ve ever made a sale, or comforted a crying child, you have exercised the power of influence. As a business owner, your opportunity to influence may be even greater.

Everything we do, say and even think influences. With persistent practice, it’s even possible to strengthen this ability—and make an exponentially bigger difference in the world.

Influencing Yourself

Believe it or not, but the first person you need to influence is yourself. You can do that by changing your inner dialogue. Say and think positive thoughts. Speak to yourself inva can-do tone, with confidence.

Acknowledge the value you add to everything you do. Be honest with yourself about what you can do. You will be amazed at the difference these practices make in how much you accomplish in a day and, ultimately, throughout your life.

Strengthen Your Message

While influencing yourself is key, it can’t stop there. Making an immediate positive impression on others is essential. That requires influencing how you are perceived—what people think or how they react when they meet you at a networking event or listen to your sales presentation.

You need to have a focused “personal brand.” Who are you? What do you care about? What are your personal and professional goals? You can’t make the right impression if you don’t know what impression you’re trying to make.

Whatever your personal brand is, be confident. Take credit when due. Do not discount your knowledge or ability to perform. Speak up when you have a good idea, make an effort or become active with a cause.

Influence Isn’t a One-Way Street

Remember, nobody listens to a person who won’t listen to them. Get to know everyone you meet—that’s the first step in valuing them. Then explore how you can be a resource to him or her. And likewise, let that person be an influence to you. Ask questions and try to learn from them.

Consider your circle of influence. Who are the most important people in your life, your career? Who encourages you? List those who support you—and those who hinder you. Even those people can become an interesting “influence” or challenge as you look for ways to value them.

Whom do you encourage, value, cherish? Identify the people you need to stay in contact with on a regular basis. Schedule a regular
coffee or lunch. Or send them a note.

It’s all about positively impacting the lives of others—and yourself! Time magazine might never put you on its cover, but you’ll be able to make a greater contribution to your business, your family … and maybe the world.