6 ways to hone your influencing skills

These days, the term ‘influencer’ seems to refer more to self-styled ‘public figures’ on Instagram than it does to powerful people in the workplace.

But influencing skills, such as collaborating with colleagues, negotiating with clients and managing upwards, are still essential attributes for any accountant who wants to stand out from the crowd. In this part of the AATPowerUp series we’ll be looking at how you can hone such skills and become an influential person in your industry.

1. Collaborate with colleagues and clients

Catherine Morgan, finance coach and planner at The Money Panel, says collaborating with colleagues and clients can really help elevate your status. So what’s the best way to branch out and connect?

Be authentic

  • “Be authentic with your approach and see what skills each person can bring to the table. You need to be willing to compromise and willing to tolerate the other persons ideas as much as your own,” Morgan advises.

Communicate clearly

  • Remember that if you are going to work together, you will need to be clear on the boundaries when it comes to your relationship and your responsibilities. “Strong collaboration takes hard work and effort from both sides,” she notes. “Perhaps record your conversations over video so that you can go back and listen to the call and confirm the details.”

Check in little and often

  • “Have regular meetings over lunch or even jump on a video call for a virtual coffee. Engage with each other using social media channels and support each-others challenges and successes. Think of it like a marriage!” says Morgan. 

2. Negotiate an agreement

When it comes to negotiating an agreement, it’s worth thinking about what a successful agreement looks like and what you want to achieve before you go in for the win.

Preparation, passion and perseverance

  • “Remember the three p’s – preparation, passion and perseverance. Rehearse saying your pitch out loud in a room with yourself to develop a positive mindset that will help you when you’re feeling nervous,” Morgan advises.

If at first you don’t succeed..

  • If you are unsuccessful with your first negotiation, think about a counter offer. A Plan B. “Compromise is key and there is often a middle ground to be had in any negotiation. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth and explain how you have thought about alternative options. It demonstrates your flexibility.”

3. Join a network and broaden your horizons

“Not all businesses have big finance teams to bounce off or learn from, and sharing the trials and tribulations of life in finance can help you realise that you’re not alone in the challenges you’re facing,” says Urchana Moudgil, COO of Upgrade Pack and a former finance director. So how can you connect with other people and try and broaden your outlook?

Get out there

  • Networking groups provide an opportunity to get perspectives and insight from those working outside of your own organisation or industry.  “Joining a network was one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given,” says Moudgil. “Having those connections, and that positive reinforcement, certainly played a role in giving me the confidence of my convictions at work and helped build influence in my career as a result,” she notes.

Think about the bigger picture

  • “Having a commercial mindset will not only make you more savvy about the organisation, and better able to earn future influence through knowledge, but will also give you the opportunity to build more collaborative and rewarding working relationships based on a mutual understanding and trust,” says Moudgil.

4. Influencing through storytelling

Developing your influencing skills is all about building your personal brand. “We are all wired to trust and connect with faces, messages and stories. So telling your story through books, quotes, blogs, videos and talks is a powerful ways to communicate what you stand for,” Morgan says.

Don’t be shy or afraid to ‘show off’

  • If you are visible, on a public platform or social media, you will inevitably start to influence your market space, including potential clients, competitors and collaborators. Posting regularly on social media (the mornings are usually the best time) and thinking about the story you want to convey and letting people know about your achievements will all help raise your profile.

Break away from the norm

  • “Don’t be afraid to break away from the ‘norm’ in your profession. Build your brand and business around what you believe in, and what you can do to help others with their pain points because people don’t buy what they need, people buy what they want,” Morgan advises.

5. Building rapport with people

Some people are naturals when it comes to building a rapport. They might subconsciously echo the way someone speaks, mimic their body language or perhaps be a brilliant listener. But, if you’re not necessarily a natural extrovert, how do you try and build a rapport with someone.

Reach out to others in your profession

  • Morgan recommends trying to connect with influential people in your industry, either through social media or directly. “Engage them with friendly banter, like you would do with friends and explore any common interests. Some of the greatest friendships are forged when you’re relaxed, friendly and show your personality,” she notes.

Be curious

  • Everyone’s favourite subject is usually themselves so you should go out of your way to be curious.  Ask them lots of questions and be inquisitive. Try and take a genuine interest in them and find out what makes them tick.

6. Establish yourself as an expert

Establish yourself as an expert in your field by sharing messages about what you are passionate about, Morgan advises.

Know your audience

  • “Some people will agree with your message and follow you, maybe even become a customer. Others won’t and that’s perfectly okay! Better to influence those who will become your raving fans rather than aspiring to attract everyone.”

Build a niche for yourself

  • Are you something of a pensions expert or do you know all about bookkeeping? Which skill or niche can you build upon. “Try and build a niche for yourself,” Morgan advises. “It will serve you better in the long run and allow your business to communicate the right messages.” 

You can follow the latest on Twitter with #AATPowerUp, or check back here for more.

Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.

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