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Build your influence to survive ‘White-collar winter’.

If you were in any doubt, now is the time to get serious about building your influence and personal brand. The recent Royal Commission into the rip-off culture within Australia’s financial institutions has left a lot of reputations in tatters. It’s never been more important for professionals to create a personal brand that showcases their thinking, integrity and ability to solve problems that matter. This brand must also be utterly authentic. Master this and you will create significant competitive advantage in a world where trusted individuals are at a premium.

A proven strategy to build and commercialise your personal brand
That’s the good news. The bad? This stuff doesn’t just happen. It requires commitment and discipline. Think of it as a strategic investment in your future success. You must decide to seize the moment. If you are a leader, you need to build influence with your customers, your people, your bosses and your board. Technical competency and time served is no longer enough.

If you already work for you, or plan to do so on the other side of a corporate career, you have 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!
8 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, keynote speaker, advisor and mentor.

I’ve captured the key elements of this journey in my Building Your Strategic Influence model. It’s based on solid experience and maps out what you need to DO, BE and BUILD to create commercial success and personal happiness as a leader, a consultants, a coach or an entrepreneur.
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There’s a ton of difference between being an expert and being an influencer. Many make the mistake of thinking it’s the same thing. Becoming an influencer is about bringing your expertise to life - activating it in a way that is attractive and commercially compelling.

You’ll require high 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 leaders off the hook in this regard). Be the one who 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.


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! You’ve got to be continually connecting your 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’.


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 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, vlogs, 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.

I have Mentored hundred lot of leaders, consultants, coaches and entrepreneurs through this journey. 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.

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
Understanding 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.

Need help?
Finally, contact me if you want help. I work closely with over 35 professionals every year to help them build the confidence, thinking, content and mindset to build their personal brand and activate it.
Mark Hodgson
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.

He is the author of Time To Shine - Adapting who you are and what you know to succeed in the ideas economy and a leading thinker and speaker on adapting our personal leadership to succeed in a volatile world. To book Mark as a speaker for your next event contact him here.

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 – 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 or call +61 425 230 335 for details.
Mark Hodgson

“ANZ Bank has moved to the front of the race to bring about the biggest white-collar job loss revolution in Australia’s history. All previous mass reductions of white-collar staff have been related to the economy. But this one is related to technology, so it’s permanent.

Spurred by the fallout from the royal commission, the banks are going to lead Australia in massive job shedding among large enterprises…. They will be followed by big professional firms and miners”.

So wrote Robert Gottliebsen last week. According to the respected financial columnist for the Australian newspaper, the long-anticipated clean out of costly, unproductive and technologically redundant middle managers is here.

White-collar Winter has arrived.

Is he right?
These could be just the words of one man, of course. But I recently sat in the offices of a mate in banking recruitment. I arrived early and had time to read his quarterly market update. It told the same story. Morale at the big four banks is low. No bonuses, few promotion prospects, constant restructuring and many projects on hold. The calm before the storm.

Flatter, faster, fewer
Whether it’s now of soon, it would take a brave soul to bet against this shift. We’ve all experienced the closure of local bank branches and the corresponding push to DIY banking online. Inevitably, that same technology now equips banks (and others) to significantly re-model their management structures. Flatter, faster, fewer.

Importantly, the banks are the first, but we should expect the same forces to run through the rest of corporate Australia.

Are you at risk?
Are you in the firing line? It’s time to take action. A giant game of musical chairs is taking place and you don’t want to be one of the thousands left standing.

You Need a Plan
This can all sound a bit gloomy, but it needn’t. The future of work is AMAZING. But to take advantage of its possibilities, we need to upgrade our skills and mindsets and present them in a way that others can access. You need to build your INFLUENCE. That means developing a VALUE BANK around your Personal and Professional brand. This exists outside of any employee relationship and is portable. When you want to (or need to) move on, it’s ready to help create options for whatever your NEXT looks like.

I think there are 5 key elements to develop. I capture them here in my model. I call this your INFLUENCER 5 PACK.







Professional & Personal Brand
This is about building a brand that showcases who you are and what you do. As our public and private lives are crushed together, it pays to capture all aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean you have to share your inner-most secrets, more that you present a rounded view. It’s about capturing your authentic self. In our post-truth, low-trust world, we are looking for interesting people with drive, smarts and passion. Personally, in addition to promoting my professional work and credentials, I also discuss my family, my sporting interests in surf-boat rowing and rugby and my volunteer work in the mental health space.

Network & Tribe
Building your influence only works if you have the right people in your world. When I start to work with mentoring clients, I run an exercise called the Wealth/Poverty network. This identifies multiple types of people we need in our sphere of influence. The Wealth side includes people who will promote us, who can advise us, who have access to finances, who inspire us, who can help carry the load ………

Most people only have a traditional ‘work-based’ network. That’s not enough. It’s rarely portable in the event you want or need to change industries or to pivot to become an entrepreneur or consultant. It can be a chastening experience to discover how fragile your network really is in the event you are no longer an influential manager (and therefore customer) in a big company. What you thought were solid connections evaporate overnight.

The game then is to identify the right people, fill in the gaps where you don’t know anyone and to proactively and consistently connect with those who are able and willing to help. Once you get the balance right it’s very rewarding and easy. You’ll find your tribe of like-minded folk who you can grow with, support, sell to and enjoy.

Thinking and Opinion
This is about getting your thinking out of your head and into the world. It’s a great way of showcasing what you know. Better still, the creative process itself usually leads to more and better ideas. It starts with giving yourself permission to put your stuff out there – typically in the form of a blog. LinkedIn is the perfect place to start with either a written piece or video.

You also need to express a point of view. If you’ve spent a long time in a corporate role, this can be hard. When I left my last leadership role, it took me a long time to be able to state, plainly, what I thought. I had to unlearn the corporate bullshit language. So have a swing. Add to the debate. It’s a great way to demonstrate your character, intelligence and ability to both define and solve a problem.

Build a Body of Work
You’ve probably been a hiring manager at some stage. That means looking at applications, CVs and, of course, LinkedIn profiles. Now imagine YOU are suddenly thrust on the job market. If I looked at your profile, what would I see? What would make you stand out?

Building your brand and demonstrating your thinking by creating a body of work is both impressive and rare! Imagine your LinkedIn profile contains 10, 20, 30 thought pieces. These combine to take me on a journey showcasing your expertise, experience and thinking. How much more likely are you to make the cut compared to the other 90% of people who have nothing beyond the standard name, rank and number fare?

Tone of Voice
Authenticity is over-used – but we are all in search of it. Many people and organisations disappoint us. We are over being sold to, fed up of corporate spin. This is why it’s important to develop your tone of voice in the content you create. It takes time, but once you have it, you are able to be yourself in the way you create and connect. Chances are if people like your online style, they will like you.

I have been playing this game for 7 years and now have a completely natural voice. What you see is what you get – and that’s very liberating. So don’t be afraid to express those individual thoughts, quirks, humorous quips, obsessions…… whatever…… that make you YOU.

Start Today
Taking the decision to build your INFLUENCE is an investment in your future. It creates options and exposes you to learning and growth. That’s got to be a good thing.

Please check out the resources below. Take my Influencer Test. Find out where your current influence score and receive your FREE report to help map next steps.

Set up a call
You can also set up a call with me to discuss how I can help as a mentor – simple drop me a line at


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