There are a ton of things to consider when building your brand, or creating an offer. Who is your audience? How can you serve them? What products or services do you offer? What tools can help you grow your business?
But, there’s one key element that can give you a significant amount of leverage. And that element is influence.
John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence. If people can increase their influence with others, they can lead more effectively.”
But what is influence when it comes to business, marketing, and sales?
It’s not just saying, “Hey, I can do this for you.”
Your target audience must feel you’re credible and trustworthy. They need to have confidence that you can deliver. They need to know that you’ll stand by what you say in your presentation or sales process.
Many people have so-called “power” in the marketplace, but they don’t have much influence.
Keep in mind that you’re never going to build a brand where EVERYONE trusts you, likes you, and wants to do business with you. But, you can make choices that mitigate the number of people who dislike or mistrust you.
In layman terms, influence is building authority in a cool way.
So, why does influence matter? Why bother exploring influencing techniques and strategies?
The simple answer? Competition.
You’re not the only person doing what you do.
The barrier to enter business has gotten lower and lower. You can start a business with an Instagram account and $50 to file your business with the state. It’s easy for newbies to set up shop and compete with well-established businesses.
Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world experts don’t stand out as easily as they should. And the copycats cause the prices to go down because this is the only way they can compete with each other.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This is a difficult position to be in.
So for your business ask yourself these questions: Do you continue doing what you’re doing and watch the bottom fall out of our marketplace? Or, do you build a position of preeminence so you aren’t perceived as part of the noisy sea?
If you want to be in business for the long haul, here are three tips for building influence:
1. Listen to your audience before talking to them
Be around them and find out which platforms they frequent.
Understand their problems and learn how to articulate it better than they can. This is a very influential step because you can anticipate their needs.
You can understand where they are and what they have experienced by tuning into your audience. Then, you can start helping them by providing value.
When you start working with people, always find ways to improve the experience.
Ask for feedback.
Ask them directly, “How do I make this better for you?”
Trust me, that little step can take a client from just a client to a raving fan.
2. Don’t get paid in cash only
And no, I don’t mean that you should also take checks or credit.
While most people see the exchange of goods and services through monetary value, there are many other ways you can get paid. According to Dan Sullivan, capability, creativity, credibility, connections, and confidence are five other forms of payment.
While everyone needs cash to keep the lights, don’t make the mistake of taking the payday and not growing your business.
For my first five years of business, I would negotiate a great deal and think I was a genius. I landed high-paying clients sporadically, but I wasn’t thinking strategically about building my business. I would go back to broke in no time – from caviar to ramen noodles every three months.
Remember that connections can multiply. You might get $1,000 in cash and three referrals. Then those three referrals result in $3,000 and nine referrals. It’s a machine that feeds itself over and over again.
You can gain credibility and contribute toward building strategic influence by being willing to help others. I focused on creating a good experience that provides value for my clients. This brought in so many other opportunities, from more calls to speaking engagements, which can broaden your network so quickly.
I once took a client I wasn’t sure about. I thought I had a good strategy but I couldn’t guarantee results. I reduced the price so I could try out this project and expand my horizons. While I was paid cash, it also boosted my creativity, capability, and confidence. Once you do an incredible job at a reduced price, you can easily ask for a referral or testimonial.
So, don’t just have your eye on the cash as a prize. Pay attention to the other ways you can earn money while also building influence, your network, expertise, and credibility.
3. Be crystal clear about everything
No one ever makes a decision when they’re confused. Clarity creates deals.
So, make it easy on people and make sure you’re always clear. What’s the intention of the connection? Why should they be interested in talking to you and what’s the next step? Leave them with more answers than questions.
Ensure that you have that clarity throughout your business. Clarity in your strategy, your communications and even in yourself.
It is important to be clear on what you stand for and what influence and impact you want to make in the lives of your clients. You want your clients to have confidence when they are working with you, and this often happens when you’re clear about who you are and your brand.
Build influence and become a hero
At the end of the day, influencing others (and building influence in your space) can make your business thrive and stay around for a very long time. It’s almost like a weapon that can break you if it isn’t wielded properly. My two cents: use influence to be someone’s hero…the hero of your client’s journey…and your business will thrive.