Becomming a Person of Influence

I recently attended the Grace Hopper 2009 Conference, a conference that celebrates and tutors women in science and computing. I took away many things, but leadership was especially important.

When you feel that you are your organizations best kept secret, perhaps you have become too much of a secret. The awful truth about influence is that your behavior teaches others how to treat you. There are different sources of influence, some predisposed, some personal, some social that you should use to your benefit.


Your job title may come with influence already attached to it, for example, perhaps you are a director or a professor. Even if it doesn’t, you can make your position more visible and valuable to others. The last thing that you want is your superiors questioning what it is that you do and if you are of any value or use to their corporation or vision.

Advertise Yourself Don’t spend more than thirty seconds, but develop a short commercial that says who you are, what your title is, what you do, and what others should come to you for. Whenever you introduce yourself to a new aquantance, use this introduction to explain about yourself – it’s only pompous if you lie! Present in a format like “Hello, my name is _____, and I am a ____(your title)____, and I am responsible for ___(list a few most prominent things)___, and you should come directly to me for _____ ( a few things you handle)____.”

Expertise, Informational, Resources

When others see you as a useful source of information, you will start to gain influence. Instead of saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that question.”, try “I know exactly what you are talking about, but I don’t have that data with me right now. Let me get back to you on that after this meeting.” Do spread your expertise to others, promote your accomplisments, hold talks and colloqueums about what your area, write papers or blog, speak at functions or meetings or conferences. Know what is going on in your corporation, about the internal affairs, keep tabs with ongoing projects. Never cease to stop learning new things and skills thoughout your time. Lastly, know how to use what you have, and how to get what you need, to do your job well.

Direct, Relational

Use your direct, fire or hire power only when absolutely nessissary. This kind of influence is used to correct bad, malicious behaviour when all else fails. When doing so, be clear, consise, direct, and convey a sense of positive vision – what good things can happen if the malbehaving party stops their inappropriate behavior? Relational influence is your frienships, aquantances, social networks within and outside your organization. Don’t be afraid to take initiative to meet new people, or to get to that place where you form new professional relationships – volunteer to work on a project, to speak at a lecture, to help at a conference.

Silently waiting in your current position and hoping someone important will notice you is not the way to advance your career. Instead, it lies in networking, having influence, and being visible as opposed to hidden.

Based off of a talk that was presented at the Grace Hopper Conference, 2009, by Jo Miller.