Like respect, influence is something that you can only earn. Sharing inspiration, creating relationships, and even managing people is made so much easier when you have the power to influence others, but not everyone does. Becoming an influential person is all about building credibility and trust and providing a good reason for people to actually listen to what you’re saying (and care enough to act on it). This may sound like an incredible feat, and sometimes it is, but it’s one that is made easier by using some of these great tips on how to effectively influence others.

Who wants to listen to someone who has no idea what they are talking about?

1.      Never forget that credibility counts

Who wants to listen to, much less be influenced by, someone who has no idea what they are talking about? Remember that credibility is key to effectively influencing people. That means you need to know what you’re talking about (or at least look like it!), be trustworthy, likable, and relatable.

2.      Pay attention to your appearance

Part of being credible and likeable is presenting yourself positively. A sloppy appearance can put off the impression that you’re aloof or disorganised. Even if that’s the truth, do put some effort into how you’re dressed, paying attention to dress codes and proper grooming.

3.      Share interest and attention

Few people are willing to give their attention to someone who seems to be completely self-centred and uninterested in what they have to say. Sure, you may have something important to share, but influence is a two-way street. Always be sure to pay attention to what others have to say and genuinely show your interest. It’s likely that they’ll do the same for you.

4.      Make things personal

Dale Carnegie has famously shared in How to Win Friends & Influence People: “… a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Know that using someone’s name is a valuable and powerful tool, but be careful not to overuse it. Keep your language natural, while still remembering to use their name to identify its importance.

5.      Know your audience

Getting to know people is a very powerful tool that will allow you to more effectively approach them, understand how they think and feel, and use that knowledge to tailor your approach. Consider their traits, interests, and values, knowing that certain ideas may be more interesting to them than others.

6.      Effective framing

How you present ideas can make all the difference in the world. Would you rather eat “fried chicken,” or “free range chicken with herbs and spices delicately prepared in 100% organic oil?” They might be the same thing, but one sounds much more appetising. Do you oppose “inheritance taxes” or “death taxes?” Again, they’re the same thing, but “death taxes” just sounds much worse, thanks to the negative connotations surrounding the word death. Used as a persuasive tool, framing can be a subtle trick that helps bring people to your point of view.

7.      Speak their language

It may be easy to talk industry-speak among your colleagues, but try pulling that with anyone outside that small circle, and they’re going to lose interest fast. Avoid glazed-over eyes by putting ideas into terms that anyone can understand and appreciate.

8.      Identify win-win outcomes

Most people want to know what’s in it for them. So as you influence someone, don’t neglect to point out why your idea is a positive thing for them. Always remember to offer, with proof, how a certain situation is a win-win.

9.      Always be willing to compromise

Compromise isn’t an indication of weakness. Rather, it proves that you’re thoughtful and possibly even creative. People will always appreciate your willingness to be flexible, and allowing for compromise can make all the difference in the world.

Be direct -don’t beat around the bush

10.   Be direct

Don’t beat around the bush: if you want to sell someone on a certain item, be clear about what’s going on. People don’t appreciate feeling tricked. Be careful not to hint at what you want, but at the same time, don’t be demanding; simply be direct.

11.   Seek out social proof

People want to know that others agree with what they’re doing. You’ll often hear people say that they want to do things differently than others, but the fact is that so often, we just want to fit in and learn from the actions of others. Doing so is what’s called social proof, and using this idea is a great way to influence people. When hotels ask guests to use their towels more than once, they’re much more likely to actually do so if the request is accompanied by a social proof message pointing out that “almost 75% of other guests help by using their towels more than once.” You don’t have to personally influence people: social proof can do the job for you.

12.   Remember the importance of thank yous

Build upon existing relationships by carefully remembering, identifying, and showing your gratitude to those who have taken care of you in the past. People are so much more likely to be on your side and respond to your influence if you’ve effectively shown them how important their own influence is on your life and work.

13.   Show your enthusiasm

Everyone wants to be a part of something exciting. Show that you’re interested and excited about what you’re sharing with them, and they’ll have a hard time not wanting to get involved as well.

14.   Pay attention to non-verbal cues

Never forget the importance of eye contact and positive non-verbal behaviour. Appear engaged, interested, and polite as you speak with others and maintain good eye contact.

15.   Be positive

Hardly anyone wants to listen to someone that is frequently complaining. Criticising, complaining, and other negative talk can quickly turn off those who would otherwise be willing to listen to what you have to say. Even if you’re not a fan of an idea or situation, find a way to put a positive spin on it if it happens to come up in a discussion: “It’s too bad about ABC Manufacturing shutting down all those plants, but it’s so great that XYZ Company was able to hire so many of the laid-off workers.”

16.   Do not point out how someone is wrong

Another part of being positive is being polite enough to avoid hurting someone else’s self-esteem. No one wants to hear that their ideas are stupid or just plain wrong. Be careful not to flat-out dismiss someone else’s ideas, instead discussing ideas more along the lines of, “I like that, but what if we did ____?”

17.   Stay persistent

It’s easy to forget or brush aside tasks, even when you think they’re important. Great ideas fall by the wayside because people often lack the ability to follow through. Don’t let your ideas suffer this fate: be persistent, and remind others of their importance by politely following up regularly to make sure you see them through.

18.   Tell a story

Facts and figures are interesting to analyse, but in conversation, most people will let them go in one ear and out the other. A story, on the other hand, is much more likely to not only hold the attention of a listener, but also be remembered. Use short, but interesting stories, analogies, and more to capture the attention of others and win the chance to influence the way they think.

19.   Let other people take credit

We don’t mean that you should allow a colleague to claim your work as their own, but if you want to make someone feel great about going along with what you want, an easy way to do that is to lead them to think it was their idea all along. Lead them with prompts that steer them to what you’re really looking for.

20.   Find out how you can help them

This is one of the most important things you can do in networking. If you’re setting out to influence someone, surely it’s because you want them to do something for you or take a certain action. But before you do that, scratch their back first and hope they’ll repay the favour when the time comes.

Be nice to everyone

21.   Be nice to everyone

You may not respect someone’s receptionist, but don’t be fooled into thinking he or she is not important and influential. You never know who can end up being the key to your success, or who is paying attention to how you treat others. We’re sure that any CEO you’re trying to influence would not be impressed to find out you’re being abusive to his secretary who’s been with him for 20 years.

22.   Share good food

It’s uncanny how effective food is as a motivator and social glue. Breaking bread is a time-honoured tradition for friendships, business, and influence, and it would be foolish to ignore the power of sharing good food. A bar owner who rewards bartenders with pizza after a rough night, or a new employee who brings cupcakes to share with the office has laid a highly effective foundation for camaraderie and influence.

23.   Practice reciprocation

Part of the reason why sharing food is so effective is because people feel indebted to those who have done them a favour. Hardly anyone likes to feel like they owe anything to others, so often; favours are returned and even built upon. Free samples are an especially effective tool in reciprocation, as most buyers feel obligated to purchase after they’ve gotten something for nothing.

24.   Live what you preach

Be an ambassador of whatever it is that’s important to you. If you believe in natural foods, eat them and share them with others, and people will inevitably become interested. If you’ve designed an effective piece of software, use it often and let people see how well it’s working for you. People are much more likely to be influenced by what you’re doing than by what you’re saying.

25.   Prove that your ideas are legitimate

Show people that what you want to do is consistent with what is typically recommended or proven successful. Back up your ideas with studies, policies, or facts from experts that indicate the legitimacy of what you’re trying to do.

The above article was published in the onlinemba.com blog 14/2/2012.
I thought the pointers here were priceless- each tip is hyperlinked to the source which provides an even greater source of reference and web resource.