How to Influence People: The Secrets to Popularity and Persuasion
If you want to build a network, an audience, and a tribe of like-minded peers, you need to learn how to influence people.
Have you ever noticed somebody in the field you’re in (or aspire to be in) just come out of nowhere?
Whenever you see someone make a meteoric rise, know that it’s often planned well in advance.
The ability to influence people is more powerful than raw talent or resources.
You can’t become an influencer without…influencing people.
It’s a delicate art, not a blunt instrument. Master it and the world is yours.
Stick with me and I’ll show you everything I know…
Lead Your Tribe
Artists build tribes. Companies can build tribes of people who love their products. You can build a tribe in your community or neighborhood.
A tribe is nothing more than a group of people who share the same values and want to follow the same mission.
Finding yours is the key to…everything.
But how do you do it?
The #1 Mistake I See Aspiring Leaders Make Over and Over Again
If any of the following describes you, it’s time to rethink your strategy:
- You think good art or products should stand on their own without promotion
- You think you deserve to have an audience or a following
- You’ve never taken the time to put your work in front of people who might want it and you’re actually surprised that the “build it and they will come” strategy doesn’t work.
One trait kills more future leaders than all others — entitlement.
Be honest. Do you feel entitled to a bigger tribe than you have right now?
If so, why? What have you done to warrant a large audience? How muchwork have you put in? Are you trying to get better or are you using the same strategies over and over again?
Being in the advice business, I’ve learned that many people don’t want real advice, they just want you to validate their beliefs.
If you can’t escape that trap. If you’re not teachable, things won’t work out well for you.
Shrink your ego a little bit, the world can be yours.
Go to the Source
To influence people, you need people to influence.
Instead of waiting for them to come to you, go to them.
If you’re a writer, that means publishing on other websites with built-in audiences. If you want to be a community leader, that means volunteering, attending events, visiting town hall meetings, whatever. For company owners, that means doing research into your target audience hangs out online
Attention is the currency of 2019 and beyond.
You really don’t have a choice but to understand media, persuasion, and the online landscape. Not if you want to have real influence and career capital.
This formula is pretty simple. But it requires work. That’s what trips people up. Throwing up a website to promote yourself is easy enough.
Combing through Google and finding places to pitch or feature your work is time-consuming.
The good news? You have time. Start now.
Build a Network (the Right Way)
I hate the word “influencer.”
But, the ability to influence people is valuable. And yes, there are people with influence that you’ll want to connect with to become future partners, mentors, and most importantly friends.
You can’t succeed on your own. Finding like-minded people in your space is key, but like the “build it and they will come” mentality, so many people get this oh so wrong.
So let’s set the record straight on how to network with influential people and make connections in a genuine way.
The WIIFM Principle
I’m a D list internet celebrity.
A handful of people know who I am either through my personal development writing or my writing coach blog.
I get emails from fans almost every day.
There are two types of emails:
- Emails that adhere to the WIIFM principle
- Bad e-mails that turn me off
Whenever you’re trying to connect with someone new, always be able to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
It’s astonishing how many people break this rule.
If you’re trying to connect with someone influential in your field the last thing you should do is reach out in a needy way and ask them for something upfront.
This is a surefire way to get nowhere, yet droves of people try to network this way. Why?
Because they’re lazy. Going deeper, they’re not simply lazy, they’re afraid.
Fear makes you take shortcuts because when you do fail, you can give yourself an excuse — you didn’t really try that hard so it’s ok.
I’ve had times where I’ve taken time to carefully study who I reached out to, tried to connect with them in a genuine way, and ended up receiving no message back. It’s just part of the game.
It’s a time-consuming approach, but these strategies will increase your odds of connecting.
How to Influence People Into Becoming Part of Your Network
Before I attempt any connection, I follow one simple rule:
I have to genuinely like and respect the people I’m trying to connect with.
See, far too many people try to “spam their way to success.” They try to figure out who the players in the field are and seek them out based on status alone. And it shows.
Focus on connecting with people you actually want to connect with. People who you think would be fun to sit down and have a coffee with. People who create or do work you admire. You’ll be a lot more authentic coming from that mindset.
Next, find simple ways to connect with them and don’t be creepy.
Here are some ideas:
- If they have online content, share it on social media.
- Connect with them casually on social media by replying to one of their posts.
- Send them a thank you email. Don’t ask for anything, just tell them that you appreciate their work. Be thoughtful and specific.
- If they have products, buy them! Write reviews for them and share them.
- If you have a skill that can help them in their business or career, offer them help for free
After you have some rapport with them, you can start asking for advice and even favors. Don’t play ‘tit for tat’, though. Keep score is inauthentic and…creepy.
Go into it with the mindset that you’re just trying to connect with others. Then, if you want something down the line that comes up in an organic and authentic way, you can reach out to your network
Every so often, someone will reach out to me the right way. They will acknowledge my work, ask a specific question, and send a brief message that doesn’t take up time.
I can tell these types of people have promise.
And that’s the recipe right there.
On top of building your audience and networking, this last section will pour gasoline on your influence fire.
Learn How to Influence People With These Persuasion Hacks
Good persuaders gently nudge people in the direction they want them to go without them knowing it.
If you learn how to persuade, use your powers for good. There’s nothing wrong with knowing how to influence someone if you know you’re doing it for the right reasons.
There are many sources to learn persuasion, but I’ll keep it short and give you the best one first.
Read the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. It’s the Bible of influencing people.
He opens the book with an example of a woman who owned a jewelry shop in a tourist town. She was having trouble selling turquoise earrings. Wanting to get rid of them quickly, she told one of her employees to mark them down to half price. On accident, the employee doubled the price.
The jewelry sold out in a day.
Increasing the price increased the perceived value. Our brains equate price with quality. This is why diamond manufacturers limit the supply of diamonds and jack up the price. Because of the perceived value and status of “rare” jewels.
This example is just one of the “levers of persuasion,” you can use to get people to do what you want.
The Levers of Persuasion
- Reciprocity — When you do favors, people tend to do them back. This is why car salesmen offer you water or coffee.
- Social proof — We like to see that others have done something before we decide to do it. This is why products with good reviews sell better.
- Commitment Consistency — We don’t like to go against identity or belief we’ve already committed to. This is why salespeople ask questions about your tastes and habits then provide products to match them.
- Liking — We tend to believe people we like and discount the opinions of people we don’t like, even if they’re wrong. See: politics.
- Scarcity — We value scarce resources. This is why companies put deadlines on sales… “don’t miss out!”
- Authority — We value perceived authority and credentials. This is why every single Ph.D. adds their title to book covers
Buy the book and go deep. If you want to go further, some other great books are:
- Poor Charlie’s Almanack
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Win Bigly
- 48 Laws of Power
- The Laws of Human Nature
To wrap everything up, I’ll leave you with these parting thoughts.
The Secret to Becoming a Master of Influence
All these points have one thing in common. To achieve them, you have to get over yourself.
That’s your number one problem. You’re too preoccupied with your dreams, your career, and your success.
But your dreams, career, and success are all predicated on your relationships with other people.
The great news? Everyone else is preoccupied with themselves, too. So if you step back, observe, and analyze, you actually develop psychological superpowers.
Adopt the ability to patiently learn the ways of influence, and you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want with your life.
Ayodeji is the author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You. Want a free copy of my first book? Get it here.