Recently, many people – particularly leaders – have asked me about influence. Specifically, they've wanted to know how influence works so they can reap the benefits of having an impactful career and life.
They've wanted to know how they can drive their projects forward without unnecessary obstructions, delays and aggro. They've wanted to know how they can achieve more stakeholder buy-in and engagement. They've wanted to know how they can meet their go-live dates on time and within budget. And, they've wanted to know how they can attract the best talent, and for some, how they can get more women into the industry and applying to their jobs.
If their focus is on career progression though, they've wanted to know how to attract better projects, jobs, speaking gigs, and maybe PR. And, if they’re an entrepreneur or salesperson, typically how they can attract investors or more clients.
Whatever their particular goal, one thing is certain…
‘They’re only ever going to succeed if their idea and message sticks in people’s minds.’
You see, influence is driven by expertise, credibility, authority, position, or relationship with an audience or online following. And, an influencer is someone who has the power to reach an audience, to capture the market’s attention, and to affect buying decisions.
It’s that simple.
Typically, although not always, an influencer is a trusted subject matter expert, has a large following (online, offline or both), and can be relied upon for original thought leadership, which their network is hungry for. Influencers lead with passion and curiosity, inspire action amongst their followers, foster communities, and are connectors and bridge builders.
And here’s the thing. Influencers rarely, if ever, seek to be an influencer. They seek to serve first and fulfil a mission that’s bigger than themselves. Influence is NOT about power or ego. It is about progress and impact.
Influencers understand that personal power in the age that we now live in has changed. No longer are we reliant on how it was set in the past. Then, it was based on position, job role and hierarchy, plus a command and control type of approach. But, effective leaders today, increasingly understand that if they want to affect change, achieve buy-in, and progress in their career, they need to pull and attract, rather than push and force. And, they're much more aware of a more natural approach that allows for increased awareness within the ecosystem.
Now, when it comes to message, those who seek influence in cybersecurity want to be impactful, but few know how to get good engagement or follow-through in response to their communications. What most do is obscure, use too much technical jargon, provide too much information, or are too inconsistent. They don’t realise that building influence follows a process, is a skill that's learned, and takes time.
Furthermore, that whilst influencers are significant, being one is not something that everyone aspires to. However, having an authentic personal brand, which all influencers have, needs to be, as with the onset of Industry 4.0, the way we work is changing. And, when it comes to women in cybersecurity this is vital, as studies find that self-advocacy is better for your career than working hard.
Those who create a strong personal brand that evokes who they are, what they stand for, and how they differentiate themselves are going to attract better opportunities. And, despite goals to plug the skills gap and increase diversity, competition is fiercer than ever. Everyone is going to have to work even harder than they did before.
To impress hiring managers (internally and externally) or gain opportunities (investors, sales etc.) as an entrepreneur, everyone is going to have to become much more visible, much more impactful, and create a much more memorable experience in the minds of those they interact with. It’s going to be the main way to get doors to open to new opportunities and enable the recognition that will take you to new levels of success.
Now I want to hear from you…
- Tell me how you're using influence to meet your goals and objectives, inside your organisation or outside of it.
In my next blog, I’ll be examining personal branding in more detail. Until then, if you want to get started with creating a personal brand and learn how to better position yourself so you can build trust and influence within your organisation, watch my FREE Masterclass.