There are four levels of Influence: The first level of Influence is being able to engage an audience. The next level is when you anticipate how your actions and words will impact a group. The third level is when you use indirect influence in order to accomplish your goal. Finally, the highest level of Influence is when you practice developing support behind the scenes, not just when the people gather for a meeting.
You are influential if you can take people who know nothing about a subject, get them interested, and send them away feeling that they’ve learned something important or useful from you.
You may want to improve your influencing skills if you aren’t able to defend a good idea, if people don’t remember what you said or talk over the top of you, or if you only like to work alone.
The most effective way to develop Influence is to identify someone who you think is strong at influencing.
Identify someone in your organization who is adept at influencing. Ask the person to help you understand situations where they need to exert influence and have them tell you how they do it. What steps do they take? How does s/he know who to influence and what factors to focus on? What were the outcomes? You will be surprised that people are often quite conscious of what they are doing to influence others. In fact, you might want to talk with a couple of people who are good at this.
Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Goldstein, Martin and Cialdini is a good book for specific suggestions. If you prefer to learn the science along with the framework, try Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Cialdini. In fact, Cialdini’s website, http://www.influenceatwork.com/ has an online quiz and a helpful pocket guide in the online store that you can keep in your wallet.
Ultimately, it takes practice to improve your influencing abilities. And you need to keep track of your efforts and how each instance turns out. You want to be able to look back and see your success over time!