It can be easy to fall into the trap. The trap where you believe that where you’re at in your career or what job title you hold at a company affects whether or not you are influential in the workplace. Believe me, I’ve been there.
When I started my first job in the real world as an Assistant Strategist at a global media agency, I’d constantly remind myself I was at the bottom of the ‘totem pole,’ so my voice didn’t carry weight. Because of that, I remained timid at work, kept my head down and did what was expected of me. When I started my job at Salesforce, an exploding global technology company, I recognized that I was a very small fish in a very large pond. Because of that, I accepted that I’d never really be able to stand out.
But I was wrong in both scenarios. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, especially in the last five years, is that despite your job title, despite your years of experience and despite how big your company is, you can build and exude influence. Find out how below.
Create a Strong Personal Brand
You should be establishing and making your personal brand known, especially in the workplace. This is ultimately what is going to make you stand out from others and help you build influence and ultimately excel in your career. To read more about how to establish your personal brand, you can read the post here.
Focus on What You Can Control
Working in the corporate world can be difficult, especially when things are out of your control and there’s really nothing you can do about it. But I’m here to tell you that instead of focusing on the negatives or maybe where you don’t have an opportunity to make change, focus on what you can do. This could mean focusing on simply doing your job well, as it shows you’re capable and trustworthy. Once you have the trust of leadership and co-workers, your influence is undoubtedly going to increase.
Make Strong Connections
Early in my career, I let the fact that I was just starting out influence the way I carried myself around people with more power than me. I didn’t take advantage of my time with leadership and would find myself becoming quiet and shy around them, which is very unlike me.
It wasn’t until my second job that I realized I needed to shift my thinking on that. I made a strong connection with our VP of Sales and as a result, she would consult with me and ask me questions on how I thought our company could do things differently internally. Because I felt more comfortable in our relationship, I was able to bring my ideas confidently to the table and embrace that influence.
Similarly at Salesforce, especially in the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to be in the same room multiple times with our Senior Director of Customer Success. I’ve done my best to learn more about him outside of who he is at work and ask questions about his family and interests. In doing that, I’ve been able to cultivate a relationship with him that I may not otherwise would have (as he is based in NYC and I’m based in Chicago and rarely see/talk to him 1:1). As a result, I’ve been able to strategically plant my idea on our work group and where I see our team going as a whole in the company, which was accepted and is now being implemented by leadership. I was able to successfully build my influence by creating those strong business relationships.
Project Your Voice
Currently being in a non-leadership and non-management role, I’ve made it a point to make my voice be heard. I especially feel the need to do that since I work remote from all of my team and have no one in the office with me. In making my voice heard, I’ve been able to build influence and receive more respect. Some of the ways I’ve done that is by:
- Asking the questions that everyone else is too afraid to ask
- Bubbling up ideas to my manager directly and requesting that he bring them up to leadership
- Going direct to the source and writing emails or posts with my ideas/thoughts and copying relevant leaders
- Speaking up on team calls
- Sharing my client wins and positive feedback I’ve received
Develop & Showcase Expertise
Everyone has their own unique set of strengths and expertise and it’s imperative to showcase those in the workplace. It’s one of the easiest ways to build your influence amongst your team and your company.
For me, I’ve always been strong at organization. This has benefited me especially in my last two jobs where I’ve been able to identify problems in how processes and training are conducted and have raised my hand to help. Because of that, I’ve been able to build influence in a way that I’m able to work with my managers to change how things are done and trust me to get the job done.
Bring Solutions to Problems
Speaking to showcasing expertise, it’s so important to think of ways of how problems can be solved. I find a lot of people that just like to complain about how things are done and assume they will just stay that way, so they never think to bring solutions to the table. I’ve personally seen gaps in my current role in how our team is structured, how we handle career development and how we service our clients. Instead of complaining about these issues, I’ve approached my manager with ideas and solutions to these problems. As already mentioned, some of those solutions have or are starting to be implemented, which is confirmation that despite my job title and years of experience, I do have influence. Not only that, leadership is turning to me to join conversations to help enact even more change – and that’s pretty cool.
Are you ready to start building influence at your company? For further reading on this topic, you can head over to Inc.! Tell me your thoughts and let me know if these tips helped inspire you!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, events host, speaker, and founder of Lipstick & Ink®, a career and wellness organization aimed to motivate female 9-5ers and side hustlers to own their power and make their mark. In addition to her writing and career consulting experience with L&I®, Kelly works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce. She is also in the process of writing her first book.
Kelly has landed coverage in print and broadcast outlets including Thrive Global, International Association of Women, General Assembly, TheGlu, SheFactor, EvolveHer, Cliquish, and Six Degrees Society.