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The 4 Best Ways to Influence Your Stakeholders

Posted on September 3rd, 2014 by Chris Gaborit

Everyone from general managers to system engineers is trying to influence stakeholders. Even the richest man in the world, Bill Gates spoke in a recent interview about having to influence stakeholders to complete his latest project. He said, “Helping convene global stakeholders to establish a set of measurable, actionable and consensus-built goals focused on extreme poverty is invaluable.”

Ultimately, all projects depend on the buy-in and ongoing support of stakeholders. Some are internal, such as managers and employees. Other are external, such as suppliers and shareholders.

If influencing stakeholders is going to help your project, as well as your performance review, bonus, salary, and future career, then it’s important to find out how you can become a better stakeholder influencer.

1.     Know your enemy

“Know your enemy, know yourself” is a quote from Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu’s book, The Art Of War. The 2500-year-old book is required reading for business people and is on CEO.com’s list of 23 leadership books to read before you die.

One way to know your stakeholders – enemies or not – is to do a stakeholder analysis. There are many  analysis tools on Google, but here is a free template you can download from the Victorian government.

2.     Pass the dragon test

Though passion is important, it alone won’t influence your stakeholders; you need a good track record. On the TV show Dragons’ Den, people come to influence a panel of potential stakeholders to finance and support their project. What I have observed is that the most innovative product won’t be supported by the stakeholders unless the people have a positive track record. You also need a positive track record to influence your stakeholders to support your project.

3.     Possess the X-factor

Stakeholders are not fools. They are looking for one thing, the X factor. They know that if they back the person or team with the X factor, then they are more likely to get results and support from other stakeholders.

The X factor is a combination of charisma, optimism, confidence and emotional intelligence. It makes you stand out from the crowd and attracts people to you. For some people, the X factor is an innate skill. For others it is developed through determination, passion and grit.

4.     Check your foundation

Out of all the skills a leader requires, influencing skills are the number one. Fortunately, influencing is a skill that can be developed. Recently, I interviewed Australia’s former Olympic judo coach, Angela Deacon, who now works as Bankwest’s senior manager, organisational capability. I asked her whether Olympic champions ever had to go back to basics. She replied, “Olympic champions go back to basics when things aren’t working as well as they should. Basics are all about getting the technical aspects perfect.”

To elevate your influencing skills, go back to basics and look at the foundations of influencing and check whether you have been using all of these. Above all, keep using your influence and it will continue to grow. In the words of philosopher Andrew Yong, “Influence is like a savings account. The less you use it, the more you’ve got.”

Is there Power in a Name?

Posted on May 5th, 2014 by Chris Gaborit

William Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?”

We all love it when people use our names. It makes us feel special.

Did you ever watch the television show Cheers? The theme song goes:

“Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came… You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”

There are two great communication keys mentioned in this song:

  • We want to go where people are glad we came.
  • We want to be where everyone knows our name.

Have you been to a café or restaurant often enough that they come to know your name and are pleased to see you?  What does it say to you when the waiter or waitress remembers your name? What does it make you want to do? It makes you want to keep coming back because you feel liked, special and appreciated.

Names and Customer Service

In customer service, using a person’s name is a real key to connecting with people.  I first learnt this when working in the bank.

My first job was in banking, and when I joined the bank, the manager thought I would make a good teller and sent me off on a two-week teller training course to develop the skills required. At the bank’s head office, they had a training room set up like a real bank branch. There were teller’s cubicles, money, and all that were required in being a teller.

Every day, we would practice being tellers and our trainers would be our customers. They would act like good customers, tricky customers and difficult customers. At the end of each day, we had to balance our accounts, just like a real bank.

One of the greatest customer service skills they taught us was to smile and to use the customer’s name.

When I got back to my branch, I started smiling and remembering names; I could see a change in the customers. They loved me and queued up at my booth. They often preferred me because I knew their names and was always glad to serve.

The Devil Is In the Detail

But, the devil is in the detail. We need to use the right name. For example, my name is Christopher, but I do not like being called Christopher; only my mother has ever called me by that name, and only when she was upset with me, as a child. I like being called Chris.

Some contact centers have my name as Christopher on their database, and they try to connect with me using that name, but it does not work because it is not the name I want to be called.  In fact, it annoys me, especially if I have told them a number of times to call me Chris. I also don’t like it when people call me “mate” or “matey”.  I have a name and I feel like saying, “I have a name; my name is Chris!”

Names and Influence

When you remember and use a person’s name, you are saying, “You mean something to me. I like and respect you so much that I chose to remember your name.” Managers need to use this to gain respect from team members, sales people with clients and customer service staff with customers.

Names have influence, and this can be used to your advantage to separate you from everyone else that person speaks to in a day.

When I call my phone company, energy company, or bank, I always write down immediately the name of the phone representative. Then when I am speaking to the representatives, I use their name. Sometimes I sense their surprise; they are not used to their name being used, and it snaps them out of their robotic trance and they soften to you and become present to the moment. It connects you, and then if you find something in common with them to chat about, they will connect with you more.  Sometimes I have great conversations with people on the phone, and my wife says to me at the conclusion of the call, “Why did you bother to spend all that time?” However, you see, there is a reason; I’ve received better service, new phones, replacement computers, reduced bills and romantic tables in crowded restaurants all because I took the time to connect.

Now I’m not saying that it works every time, and I am definitely not talking about manipulation. There are times when I can’t get through to the person or connect with them. There are times that I get average service, and there are times when I choose to hang up and call back, hoping to speak to a nicer person. All I am saying is that names are important to most of us, and using them connects us to others and can help us to be an influencer.

Remembering Names

However, this leads to a problem some of us have. How do you remember all the names of everyone in every restaurant? I have found two methods that I combine that work for me:

  • For years, I have been keeping a list of names in my phone. As soon as I meet people, I put their name in my ‘notes’ app in my phone. I have notes with restaurants, mechanics, builders, cleaners even family. They all have headings so I can search for them quickly.
  • Associate their name with something obvious about them. E.g. Mandy – looks like Amy my niece; Lori-Anne – blonde hair with tattoo on neck; Peter – the chubby guy with a beard.

Finally

Whether you are in management, sales, customer service or just calling a restaurant to get the best table, start realising the power of a name. Take the time to remember and use the names of those people you meet. Dale Carnegie probably said it best, “The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of one’s own name.”

 

Train your team without blowing your budget with Virtual Training

Posted on February 4th, 2014 by Victoria Kossoff

There’s no getting away from it. Providing regular training to your employees is expensive and can be a logistical nightmare. And then there’s all the travel costs associated with getting everybody together. So things had to change, right?  The good news is change has arrived. No more hiring of training venues, no more printing of course materials, no more huge travel costs.

Bare Brilliance (which is a division of The Learning Factor) has disrupted the way organisations deliver training to their employees, partners and channel.  We have leveraged the huge improvements in the Internet to deliver training sessions directly to your people, all with a live facilitator – in their home or office. No more time wasting, no more frustrating hold-ups in airports, no more empty office chairs.

We are gurus in virtual training and know all the secrets to make online training engaging and interactive. Don’t let the old obstacles stand in your way.

Virtual training is now providing businesses with a more effective and efficient way to train, educate, motivate and assist their people at a lower cost. Watch our short video to learn more.

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