It’s hard to argue with the benefits of being a workplace influencer regardless of your role. Some might think that this has to do with your title and the platform and power it provides, but the fact is that being a gifted workplace influencer has more to do with specific characteristics like your track record, office friendships, and ability to connect and communicate at work.
Luckily, like most so-called soft skills which we believe should be referred as power skills, these are things that can be worked on and developed to your advantage. But, where to start? Can anyone become a workplace influencer? What will it mean for your personal brand? What are some ways in which you can start building your informal influence at the workplace?
Why Be a Workplace Influencer?
There are roles and titles at the workplace that inherently call for some respect. Roles where having an influence on colleagues and other employees happens more naturally. However, not everyone has a title with that kind of pull, so building your influence and likeability among colleagues could help you get noticed at work and lead to growth.
Will becoming a workplace influencer regardless of your role in the company require some time and effort? Yes, of course. There is no short cut, and you will have to work on office relationships and learn to communicate clearly. It’ll be worth it though. Becoming a workplace influencer will let your colleagues and employers know that you are reliable and up for a challenge. That you have what it takes to lead.
The Value of Having Influence at Work
According to author Dorie Clark, being a workplace influencer, makes people “more likely to be noticed, get promoted, and receive raises.” Clark, author of Entrepreneurial You, says that having influence increases productivity in projects people are responsible for and genuinely care about. But it’s no easy task. Nick Morgan believes that “it’s never been harder to influence others, because they’ve never been more distracted.”
To some, the skills required to be a workplace influencer will come naturally, but don’t let yourself be discouraged if you don’t feel you are born for the task. While there’s no guaranteed method to get you there, there are some ways in which you can start building connections and setting down the groundwork to change your personal brand and establish yourself as leader and motivator.
Five Tips to Be a Workplace Influencer
1Learn to Listen: Being the loudest voice in the room won’t guarantee that people will hear what you have to say. You also never know when someone will bring something up and improve on your ideas. Learn to listen when others speak instead of just waiting for your turn. Ask questions, get involved, build on others’ ideas, and give constructive feedback. If it’s your idea on the table, have an open mind and take the views of others into consideration. Try to give them your undivided attention during meetings, whether they are one-on-one or larger, and encourage others to do the same. Don’t be afraid to ask coworkers for their opinions and advice, making them feel seen and taken into account creates a sense of camaraderie where the best ideas win.
2Build Trust and Connections: It’s not about going into some new version of a high school popularity contest. But knowing your coworkers and making room for them in your day to day will at least make them more likely to listen to you and your ideas. Put time into your work relationships, having friends and people you can trust at work will not only create support when it comes to your ideas, but will also create a happier, more productive work environment for you.
3Body Posture and How You Say Things Matters: Your body language and how you say things at the workplace matter more than you may think. In fact, your posture could determine how your whole message is received. Rebecca Knight of the Harvard Business Review points out: “Standing up straight with your shoulders back helps you come across as confident and commanding; slouching and looking down at your feet has the opposite effect.” Mind how you talk to people, too. Brutal honesty is usually not conducive to improvement, much less if it’s done publicly. So try to say things in a way that validates and builds ideas rather than tear them down.
4Recognize Others Publicly: This is one of the 7 Red Shoe Movement Principles that you should always keep in mind, particularly if you want to be a workplace influencer. Help others shine. Did your colleague (particularly a woman or a person from an under-represented group) play a key role in making something happen? Did they come up with an idea upon which others built?
Good ideas and important contributions by teammates should be celebrated and you don’t need to be a leader or hold any title to shine a line on a colleague’s good work. It not only contributes to a better work environment while giving exposure to often under-represented groups, but it also generates goodwill towards you. Knowing that you’ll recognize their contributions will make people feel more invested in you and your projects.
5Work on Your Personal Brand: Are you making sure your actions and words are consistent with what you’d like to project? “Stop for a minute to take stock of the perception others have of you,” our very own Mariela Dabbah advises. “Because that’s all a personal brand is. The perceptions others have of you. Their experience with you. Does it align well with the person you want to be known for? With how you want to be remembered? If not, you have some work to do.”
Aline Cerdan Verástegui
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