No matter what your background or job is, the ability to influence and have an impact is a useful skill.

Whether you are in a formal leadership role, volunteering at a charity, or just shopping for a new car, the skills of influence can help you.

To influence others requires a variety of inter-connected skills, such as communication, persuasion, negotiation, and follow-through.  When we think of highly influential people, they tend to be people that speak well, know how to get things done, and inspire others to act.

So how exactly can you improve your ability in these areas?

Here are 7 strategies for boosting your influence and impact skills:

1)  Know your stuff

You’ll have much more credibility when you’ve taken time to really master any content or skill sets associated with your area of expertise.  When you’re more knowledgeable and capable, you’ll also be more confident in what you’re doing and saying.  Invest in whatever learning, formal training, coaching, or education needed to gain as much expertise as possible. 

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2)  Understand the language of business

No matter what field you are in or even if you don’t have a paid role, you’ll find yourself more able to influence and persuade people when you have a solid understanding of how business really works.  All businesses, no matter what their size, are governed by the same underlying concepts of profit, loss, marketing, customer acquisition, etc. 

The more you understand about business and various industries, the more you’ll be able to converse with people at various levels. 

You’ll also be better able to contribute ideas to a discussion.   Don’t assume that only knowing your technical skills will give you the edge you’re looking for.

3)  Develop an informed point-of-view

While talking off the cuff or based on your gut instinct can be useful in certain situations, you’ll be better able to persuade and have influence when you are armed with facts, data, and even personal experience.   Be well read in areas that you care about.   Dig deep to make sure you really see all sides of an issue and what problems and concerns exist.

4)  Hone your writing, presentation, and public speaking skills

The most powerful and influential people know that good communication skills are essential.  If you want to be heard, believed, or followed, you’ll want to master your ability to communicate in writing, via presentations, and in public speaking situations.   While there are many examples of people who excel primarily in one modality, like being a good writer, you’ll have a broader reach if you can communicate effectively in multiple formats.


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5)  Broaden your network of contacts

The more people you know and who know you, the more potential resources you have.  Be assertive in developing relationships with a wide variety of people.  Attend networking events and follow up with your new connections. 

People you meet may help you solve a particular issue, spread your message if you have one, or spark new ideas. 

You’ll also gain a much broader understanding of the world and have more perspective on how others are thinking and feeling.   These contacts can even help you maintain your technical knowledge in a given field, depending on their background.

6)  Be genuine in your words and actions

You’ll have a much more sustainable impact and influence on people when they can trust what you are saying and doing.  Be transparent and honest in your dealings with everyone.  While there are certainly examples of powerful people who lack integrity, it’s not the best way to build influence that is admired and sustained.

7)  Show passion and concern

It’s hard to persuade and influence people who don’t think you really care that much about them or the issue.   Express your enthusiasm, frustration, compassion or whatever emotion is relevant.   It’s one thing to be knowledgeable about a topic, but you’ll gain more traction when your authentic feelings come through, and you show a desire for a positive outcome or to make a difference.

DIVE DEEPER:  Boost your impact, confidence, and performance by mastering how you think about your life story here.

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