What does the word ‘influence’ mean?
“The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.” Oxford English Dictionary
What is an influencer?
- Someone who makes a difference on the planet.
- Someone who has reached a respectable level of success in their field.
- Someone who is outspoken in sharing their perceptions of the world around them.
- Someone who is willing to use the services and products of people they know, like and trust and then endorse them.
- Someone who is trusted and has a reputation for being in integrity.
- Someone who is willing to be visible and open the door for others to be so as well.
- Someone who has a growing circle of people who in various combinations, read (or read about) the work of, listen to, learn from and follow on social media.
- Someone who is willing to share ‘good gossip’ about those with whom they are familiar.
- Someone who is creative with the ways in which they express themselves.
- Someone who is willing to be the wind beneath the wings of others.
- Someone who might view what they do as a ‘super power’.
Are You A Maven, Connector or Salesperson?
In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell speaks of three leadership archetypes:
Connectors: “These people who link us up with the world, who bridge Omaha and Sharon, who introduce us to our social circles – these people on whom we rely on more heavily than we realize – are Connectors, people with a very special gift of bringing people together.”
Salespeople: “Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. But there is also a select group of people – Salesmen – with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word-of-mouth epidemics as the other two groups.”When I initially heard of this concept, I immediately identified as a connector. With a father who seemed to know everyone, who could work a room and bridge various social strata (he was raised in a blue collar/working class family in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in South Philadelphia), I inherited his talent for making friends easily. In my life, the ‘six degrees of separation’ concept has been narrowed down considerably, since I generally know someone who can be of assistance as a personal or professional ally. One long time friend, begins some conversations when he wants to pick my brain, with. “You who know everyone….” I respond, “Not yet.”
Having been a therapist for three decades, I have a wealth of resources at the ready and it is akin to riffling through a rolodex to retrieve them. That makes me a maven, and although I may not know the prices for requested services, I am savvy as to who might offer what is needed. I use the term ‘Cosmic Concierge’ to refer to that particular skill.
How To Tap Into the Minds of Other Mavens, Connectors and Salespeople
Let’s say you are planning a wedding. Consider that in order to do so, you need to hire a number of vendors to make the day as smooth running as possible. If you are not in the industry yourself, you may have no idea where to turn for referrals. This is an experience that is close to home, since my son is getting married next August. Although I am an interfaith minister, I still need to ask for guidance. Due to the marvels of modern technology and the phenom of Facebook, I reached out to a local group page of which I am a part. Within minutes of tossing out the questions: where do I find a D.J., photo booth, printer for invitations?… the responses came flying in. When someone’s name popped up numerous times, I knew we had found winners.
If you are in need of a therapist or psychiatrist, you may look on line to see who comes recommended, based on reviews of their services. You might also be inclined to seek the advice of family or friends if you know they are in treatment. If you attend 12 step meetings, you may inquire of a sponsor if he or she has ideas for who you might see.
When breaking into a new field of endeavor or launching a career for the first time, it is helpful to seek support from those who have crossed the bridge into the territory you are traversing. Since they have achieved a modicum of success, they can positively influence as they inform you about who and what worked for them.
If you are seeking a job in a particular company or organization, it is of benefit to have someone on the inside. Their recommendation of you may influence a decision maker to allow you to interview and then you have the opportunity to put your best foot forward and shine.
Authors often ask leaders in their field to endorse their books, since name recognition of the one offering the thumbs up, goes a long way to giving it credibility. The same is true for celebrity acclaim. Authors such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Iyanla Vanzant, Brene’ Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton were given the Oprah seal of approval which almost immediately leads to best seller status for their creative endeavors.
A book entitled Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler offers readers an inside look at what it takes to claim the role of Influencer.
One of the contributors, Kerry Patterson offers his wisdom, “At the end of the day, what qualifies people to be called “leaders” is their capacity to influence others to change their behavior in order to achieve important results.”
Further, he shares, “Influencers use four tactics to help people love what they hate: 1. Allow for choice. 2. Create direct experiences. 3. Tell meaningful stories. 4. Make it a game.”
In my work as a therapist and presenter, I utilize all four of these concepts to engage clients and students as they are able to shift perception from what might be limiting to what is ultimately freeing.
How will you use your influence to assist you in being a positive change agent?