Build­ing up in­flu­ence


TO es­tab­lish in­flu­ence within a team, work­ers must first gain re­spect – a goal that can be re­alised both in the of­fice and while work­ing from home.

Ex­perts sug­gest as­pir­ing in­flu­encers fo­cus on be­com­ing an ex­pert in their field, build­ing re­la­tion­ships and net­works, cu­rat­ing a pro­fes­sional per­sonal brand, and find­ing a men­tor.

Ade­laide Busi­ness Ad­vice and Con­sult­ing founder An­drew Chenoweth said men­tor­ship was key to es­tab­lish­ing work­place re­spect and in­flu­ence and urged peo­ple to not let this fall by the way­side while so­cial dis­tanc­ing dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic.

“(New em­ploy­ees should find) a men­tor in the work­place, some­one who can guide and show them the way and al­low com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the abil­ity to work col­lab­o­ra­tively,” he said.

Mr Chenoweth has con­tin­ued to meet vir­tu­ally with mentees from UniSA’s Busi­ness Ca­reer Men­tor Pro­gram and Busi­ness SA through­out the pan­demic but plans to re­vert to in-per­son catch-ups now that so­cial dis­tanc­ing re­stric­tions are eas­ing.

He urged work­ers to keep build­ing pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships while work­ing re­motely by di­alling into vir­tual happy hours on Fri­day nights or by or­gan­is­ing walk­ing meet­ings.

“Go for a walk and dis­cuss a project to get some fresh air and get away from the screen,” he said.

“Even though we have re­stric­tions, there are still op­por­tu­ni­ties – it’s still pos­si­ble to have face-to-face con­ver­sa­tions.

“Keep some dis­tance away but at least you can get out and have a power-walk­ing ses­sion.”

As a men­tor, he en­cour­ages his mentees to be­come in­flu­encers by writ­ing ar­ti­cles and jour­nals and pub­lish­ing them on sites such as LinkedIn.

“(They should) use so­cial me­dia to pro­mote what they in­tend to achieve within the work­place,” he said.

SEEK res­i­dent psy­chol­o­gist Sabina Read said there were two parts to gain­ing re­spect at work – hav­ing the tech­ni­cal skills and knowl­edge to do your job well, and hav­ing the self-be­lief that con­vinces oth­ers to be­lieve in you, too.

“It’s your mind­set but also what is in your tool kit,” she said. “When we carry our­selves in a cer­tain way, peo­ple or­gan­i­cally no­tice us.

“It’s not about jump­ing up and down like a tod­dler try­ing to get our par­ents’ at­ten­tion.”

A SEEK poll of about 2800 Twit­ter users found just 46 per cent of work­ers felt re­spected by their man­ager and their col­leagues. Oth­ers felt re­spected by only their man­ager (15 per cent) or only their col­leagues (4 per cent) but 35 per cent did not get this vibe from ei­ther.

Ms Read said re­spect could then lead to in­flu­ence as peo­ple typ­i­cally fol­lowed those they liked.

“Lis­ten, be cu­ri­ous and open and in­ter­ested in other peo­ple’s views in­stead of ar­riv­ing with all the an­swers,” she said.

“Once peo­ple feel lis­tened to, it’s eas­ier to in­flu­ence them.”

Work­place ex­pert and au­thor of Step Up: How to Build Your In­flu­ence at Work Michelle Gib­bings said it was im­por­tant work­ers un­der­stood how they were seen by oth­ers.

“All the time, you are manag­ing your brand and rep­u­ta­tion,” she said.

“If you have a good brand, it’s far eas­ier to have trac­tion and get things done.”

Ms Gib­bings also rec­om­mended work­ers ded­i­cate time to their net­works.

“Peo­ple who have in­flu­ence have re­la­tion­ships at all lev­els, know who the de­ci­sion mak­ers are, un­der­stand how those re­la­tion­ships work and build con­struc­tive re­la­tion­ships there,” she said.

“They have peo­ple they can go to for ad­vice and guid­ance.”

Pic­ture: PHOTOJO

MEN­TOR: An­drew Chenoweth with busi­ness stu­dents Jamil M. Ameen, Jaimee Green and An­gela Ri­zovski.

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