in·flu·ence

“Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power. ”
Henry George

Influence is what changes the world.   A small idea that springs to life and becomes world-changing is an act of influence.   Take a look at the power of something like the iPad.  This device is becoming a force of influence and a force for change.  Schools are using iPad’s to transform the learning experience and change the next generation of learners.

What is influence and how does it work?

Influence is the ability to shift a thought, action or a belief.   Influence is a natural power that everyone has and the rules are embodied in the social fabric and culture and are seemingly invisible.

Everyday you are being targeted by people who specialize in influencing your choices.   What makes something better?   What makes the time right to make a purchase?   What creates a need?

How does someone influence you?

1. They may give you a gift.    The natural reaction is to desire to return something to the giver of the gift.   Marketers give inexpensive things to people using the idea of reciprocity (desire to give back something) as a way to create a desire to make a purchase.     The next time you do someone a favor and they thank-you for the help you gave reply by saying “You’re welcome, I know you’d do the same for me.”, and this will create an unspoken obligation.

2. Scarcity.   Anytime anything becomes rare or exclusive the desire for that thing become greater.   “Only 3 left”, “only 5 minutes left”, “almost sold out”, or “final day”, these statements create a sense that something is going to be gone or that you’re going to be left without if you don’t take action.   You only have 5 minutes before the 50% off sale ends.     People react to scarcity with an increased desire for that service or product.  It works!

3. Being the expert.   If you are an expert in a given area you will have influence.   You probably wouldn’t seek out advice from someone who doesn’t know anything about the topic you want to know more about.   The expert has credibility and that means the ability to influence.

4. Charisma or being liked.   People like to do things with people they like.  Friends have influence over you or they would likely not be a friend.  You trust others who have similar or the same likes.     People often rely on their friends for advice on making purchases as in “What kind of car would you buy?”

5. Listening to what others say.   When you are trying to make a decision there is a good chance that you’ll seek out the opinions of other people.   What is the experience other people have had with a product or service.   “Would you do business with them?” .  People look for ways to lower their risk of making a decision.   Testimonials help provide that social proof that there was positive results.

6. By creating commitments.   When you make a commitment to doing something there is a strong chance that you’ll honor that commitment.   People who make commitments to some cause will likely do the work when they are asked, it doesn’t  take much to convince them to act in line with their commitment.   Honoring a commitment is something people do to maintain their integrity.

Robert Cialdini the acclaimed expert on influence speaks to Success Magazine readers and talks about areas of influence.

What are you influenced by?   How are you influenced?

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