Before you influence, show up
If you expect to have any kind of influence in your company or in your industry as a whole, the first step is to show up. This means getting involved with your work community and going the extra mile in terms of the effort you give your assignments. The more you can put yourself out there, the more opportunities you will have for the higher-ups and key industry players to recognize you for your efforts. Here’s what you need to do.
Be On Time or Early Every Day
Do your best to be one of the first people in the office every day. Not only does this demonstrate your commitment to your job, but it can also give you a chance to get in some uninterrupted work time before everyone else arrives. Of course, there may be occasions when you are forced to arrive late, but try not to make a habit of it. Embrace punctuality in your personal life as well so that the habit becomes ingrained over time.
Always Be Prepared
If you will be attending an important meeting or giving a presentation, don’t neglect the necessary advance preparations. This can include making note of a few talking points, reviewing your slides, researching your audience, confirming appointments and more. A few extra minutes of preparation could make the difference between a presentation that is successful and one that isn’t. Your colleagues will appreciate that you are prepared as well, as this will ensure you aren’t wasting anyone’s time with an inefficient meeting.
Think Through Your Decisions
Depending on your position within your company, you may be called upon to make important decisions from time to time. It is crucial that you take the time to evaluate all of your options and their possible outcomes before arriving at a decision. Only when you have considered all of the angles can you make a truly informed choice. Be sure to take input from those who will be affected by your decision as well, as their needs and preferences could shape the final results.
Offer Solutions, Not Problems
If you expect to have any sway within your organization, you need to be able to identify potential trouble areas so that they can be addressed before they become major issues. However, it is not enough to simply point out the problem; you also need to be able to provide possible solutions. Otherwise, you’ll be seen merely as a complainer, not as someone who could be a driving force in improving the company. Even if your solutions aren’t fully worked out yet, it is still better to at least have a starting point so that you and your team can work together to come up with an action plan.
Keep Showing Up
Networking is incredibly important when you are trying to build your influence. You never know who might be able to collaborate with you on a new initiative, so don’t be shy about putting yourself out there. Attend networking events, industry-specific trade shows and other events geared towards people in your industry. If you have the time, you may want to get involved with professional organizations that serve your industry, like unions, associations and other entities. Over time, you’ll be able to build your network, which will expand your level of influence in your industry.