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Time to get busy building your Influence – here’s how

 
Part of the Time To Shine conversation is that we need to become intentional about building our influence. There’s an urgency about this. I wrote recently about the twin forces of kairos time and liminality that you may be feeling – the sense that it’s time for you to make your move. That’s cool - but (and it’s a BIG BUT!) there is also an imperative. This stuff doesn’t just happen. We must decide to seize the moment.

For several years I have been writing that business leaders and consultants alike need to actively build their influence. I think the penny is finally dropping. Leaders are realising that they need to do more. They must build influence with their customers, their people, their bosses and their boards. Technical competency and time served is no longer a guarantee of future success or even employment!

Likewise, on the independent side, if you already work for you, or plan to do so on the other side of a corporate career, you have got to add a new dimension beyond capability and contacts. Humanity is your point of difference for sure - but you still have to do something to make sure the world can see your amazingness!

A proven model built on blood, sweat and tears!
7 years ago I left a corporate career and set about designing the life I wanted. Whilst the destination is a reality, the journey wasn’t easy. I made a lot of mistakes, kissed many frogs and learned a lot of lessons. Today, I make a great living as a leadership consultant, author, speaker and mentor.

I’ve captured the key elements of this journey in my Building Your Strategic Influence model (not 100% on the name yet). The model is based on solid experience and maps out what we need to DO, BE and BUILD to create commercial success and personal happiness as influential leaders and consultants.

BUILDING YOUR STRATEGIC INFLUENCE
There’s a ton of difference between being an expert and being an influencer. You’ll require entirely different levels of pro-activity, energy, persistence and flexibility. You’ve got to stick your neck out - even within a corporate setting. Chances are you will also have to work on your own without team support or the encouragement of positive feedback.

Building your influence requires a strategic investment of time, mental energy and effort. I get frustrated at how easily organisations let their managers and leaders off the hook in this regard. So be the one who stays the course and shows the grit and initiative to get on the other side of this work. It can be hard, but it’s also greatly rewarding and enjoyable. Most importantly - Believe! This stuff works.

My model illustrates the combination of actions, attitudes and resources you’ll need to grow your influence. It describes 3 focus stages and 3 levels within each stage. Start at the bottom left and work upwards through each state.

 

 
I. DO THIS
1. CREATE (content that distinguishes)
 The first focus stage is about what you need to ‘DO’. Information is overwhelming and everywhere. We now value those who can make sense of it, by creating content that helps us to understand and solve problems. Less is usually more. Often this is about giving ourselves permission to put our ideas out there, rather than to rely on prevailing or dominant market thinking. Be brave! Have fun!

2. ENGAGE (connect with prospects/people)

Experts and leaders often present an aversion to selling, rather trusting that the sheer weight of their intelligence or status will seal the deal. Many subscribe to the ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. In my experience they don’t! We’ve always got to be connecting our ideas and in-build this process into everything we do. You need to think twice - first about what you want to communicate, second - what’s the most engaging way to do that.

Elegance, energy and environment are all variables we can use to maximise the impact of our ideas - and therefore our success in selling them - either for money or to persuade those we lead or partner with.

3. EXECUTE (flawless and impressive)

It’s no use having amazing ideas if you can’t make them real and wow your customers, clients, staff and peers. Today’s technology, means all of us can create amazing projects, products and collateral. There really are no excuses, so up-skilling in this area is critical. From client ‘first contact’ through to project delivery, follow up and invoicing - we need to make sure we are professional, timely and impactful.

So that’s what we ‘DO’. To ensure we consistently build our Influence over time, we also need to get into the right mindset. This is the focus of the second stage and is about how we need to ‘BE’.

II. BE THIS

4. Productive (get more done faster)

If you are going to earn serious money for yourself or your company by commercialising your expertise, you have to become highly-productive. This has always been the case for solopreneurs. Increasingly, organisational leaders are also being expected to act like internal entrepreneurs. The gap has closed remarkably. Gone are the days of PAs and spare people. You need to become ruthlessly good at getting more done more quickly and develop a constant vigilance around your output levels.

5. Strategic (sequence actions and skills)

We need to have a clear plan of where we are going. This means doing the right things at the right time. It’s easy to embark on too-many projects or to get distracted. This is where 90-day horizons and strict weekly, monthly and quarterly plans are crucial. You need to schedule your activities and say “no”. It’s about developing the discipline to finish what you’ve started (and avoiding shiny project syndrome).

Leaders and organisations have to place the same importance on meeting e.g. content-creation deadlines (blogs, presentations, speeches, videos, podcasts…) as they do on the weekly sales figures. It’s easy to get lost in the gravity of business as usual, so you need to become ruthless in staying on track.

6. Accountable (take responsibility)

Most of us can’t do this alone. The best way to stay the course is to hold yourself accountable to someone else. An external mentor is the perfect person to challenge and correct us and also to encourage us to keep delivering on our agreed actions and targets.

Mentoring is what I do for a lot of leaders and solopreneurs. I usually find that the people I work with are amazed with what they have achieved and how they have grown after only 6 months.

The combination of our ‘doing’ and ‘being’ is a great start to developing and deploying our influence. The final column details the things that we need to be ‘building’ over time. These are fundamental in sustaining us to enjoy long-term success.

III. BUILD THIS

7. Resilience (know the game)

The pressures of work and life don’t disappear when we commit to building the profile, positioning and commercial impact we need to become market influencers. Trust me, you WILL experience knock-backs and discouragement. Colleagues will say you are wasting your time, that it doesn’t work. Projects will fail. Ideas will be rejected. You will doubt yourself and wonder if it’s all worth it.

You must counter this by learning to expect and accept this fact of life and to develop your resilience muscle. You must also never lose sight that you are making a significant investment in securing your future success and happiness.

8. Support (spread the load)

To help manage your resilience, to stay on strategy and to thrive in a potentially lonely environment, it’s important to build a supporting community. As you develop your network, you must actively seek out and commission those who you ‘get’ you and what you are about. These are the kindred spirits, willing to support your growth. You will be amazed and delighted by the people and resources that emerge as you develop your reach.

9. Community (find your tribe)

The ambition to become a business and market influencer can seem unrealistic and even arrogant. If you’ve got this far, you probably think you have something to offer the world. GOOD FOR YOU! You’re probably right.

Once you step out on this path, you will be amazed by the new connections, friends, colleagues, mentors and resources that your efforts reveal. In just a few months you’ll probably look back and wonder how you remained so stuck for so long.

True North
I find that getting clear on the 9 elements of this model is clarifying. It’s easy to get lost and discouraged on this journey, or to fixate on a few of the pieces. All are important over time - especially once the initial inspiration has passed. Keeping a lightness of touch and a good sense of humour and humility is also useful.

 

 
If you want to know more about working with Mark to activate this thinking in your world, check out the following options: 
Time To Shine - Masterclass -> 1-public workshop Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
Time To Shine – Leader Workshop -> 1-day in-house programme for teams
Time To Shine – 60 or 90 Keynote speech ‘Why Humanity is our point of difference’  
Time To Shine - Personal Mentoring Programme -> For organisational leaders, independent consultants, coaches and entrepreneurs.
Contact us on mark@markhodgon.com.au or call +61 425 230 335 for details. 


Work with Mark
Since 2010 Mark Hodgson has been successfully helping executives, coaches and consultants to build confidence, gain clarity in their message and position themselves as influential thought leaders who people want to work with.

Contact me here
 
Mark Hodgson

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