There are many factors that are critical for influencing – but none is as important as trust. You gain this through building relationships.
Of course, we can be influenced by people we don’t know and have no relationships with – the famous, the historic, the uber-rich or successful, the beautiful, and the talented.
I’m sometimes amazed at how much influence others can wield over us based solely on what we’ve heard about them (reputation). Witness the popularity and ongoing effectiveness of celebrity endorsements, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
But when it comes to people that we do know – particularly those we work or do business with – the most powerful weapons in our influencing arsenal are our relationships.
If you’ve read any of my books, you already know that I’m a huge proponent of building ongoing relationships based on trust, mutual interest (win-win) and strong communication skills.
The stronger the trust you have built with others, the stronger your influence will be – both directly and by reputation. Get to know people who have influence and those whom you need to influence. Find out who they are, what they do, and what their interests and challenges are. Help them be successful. Stay in touch over time to continue building these relationships.
One caveat: When it comes to building relationships, if you are only focused on what you want from others or what they can do for you, in essence, you are using them. This is manipulation, and it’s not the way to wield influence. At some level, we all know (and resent) being used or manipulated.
Instead, find ways to help others, give a link to an article of interest, put in a good word at the right time, deliver on your promises, and, of course, do a good job.
If you are truly interested in others, they will feel it and know it is genuine. You might find yourself with true friends and allies who will enhance your life – or mentors who will come to mean a great deal to you over time.
However you choose to go about building relationships, remember that trust and respect are vital to influence others.
Here are six reminders about building effective relationships and trust:
- See things from the perspective of others
- Be likable
- Be competent – do what you say you will do
- Look for commonalities
- Help others
- Remember, you are dealing with people – people who have their own interests, goals, concerns and desires. Respect them, and you will be respected as well.
Focus on building effective relationships – and you will see your influence soar.
Marjorie Brody, CSP, CPC, CPAE is a faculty member of LEADERSHIP USA