Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Sunday, January 08, 2006

5 Ways For You To Be Influential

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I share many people's frustration with being ignored and looked at as just another reader, just another vote. Given my belief that most of you reading this are in some way interested in social influence and social power, and since I've been published in Time magazine as well as several newspapers, I thought I'd share what I know. Here are my top 5 ways to be more influential.

Note that this is just my humble opinion, so use common sense and take this with a grain of salt. If you enjoy it, however, you're quite welcome to subscribe to our free bi-monthly newsletter.

1) Express an original idea, or a common one in an insightful new way.
Consider how likely it would be for the newspapers to publish a story about a person learning 2 + 2 = 4. Compare that to a revolutionary physical proof as to why 2 + 2 actually equalled 5. Of course, any fool can make the claim, but if it is substantiated by something others haven't considered, the likelihood of getting people's attention is greatly increased. For example, the letter of mine that Time published said that greater portion sizes are linked with obesity. Obvious, right? Except I didn't just limit myself to that, but I pointed out that in fact studies x, y and z had demonstrated this, and some of the research (albeit not the conclusion I've drawn) was published as early as 1994.

2) Meet and speak to more people.
It's such a simple thing, and yet so many of us ignore this. Are you more likely to listen to the preacher shouting in the street, or to your friend who's earned your respect with time? The Internet offers plenty of ways to meet people and become their friends, and given the contagiousness of trends on the internet, friends of friends grow networks easily. Forums are an easy, fun way to do this, though admittedly time-consuming. A forum basically has users with common interests post subjects like they would do on a cork noticeboard, to which others can post replies, and so on. These things exist for virtually everything/anything you could imagine, from music, to politics, to blogging. Newsgroups, chat rooms, and other interactive websites or web-related options abound.

3) Raise issues/opinions ignored by others.
Case in point: Centrerion. Plenty of Canadians are centrists, but there's hardly anything out there for Canadian centrists, based on Goodle searches (try googling 'canadian centrism'...). When the Montreal Gazette published a letter of mine a couple of years back, I was suggesting that the emotional response of Spaniards in voting out their current government was due to its lies, rather than due to the al-Qaeda bombing in Madrid. The media seemed to believe the Spanish had cowered in the face of terror, bucked a government that had joined the US in Irak. Though some Spanish may have chickened out, the outrage at the government's lies, trying to blame the issue on the Basque ETA terrorists was probably a greater reason for the voting. The difference between this and number one is that an ignored point is known/obvious, but attributed little regard. The media love presenting people with underdog viewpoints.

4) Volunteer with a group.
While volunteers may appear to be the bottom end of the chain, the fact that these people are working for free means they are passionate (and thus worth more attention than the average joe), and it also opens doors easier than for someone asking to be paid. Consider a person volunteering on the campaign of an important Minister. Chances are that the person would never have had the person's ear if he hadn't offered to help. Organizations can always use another hand to do chores they don't care to do, but if someone is volunteering for those things, the organizations are likely to be indulgent, and help them with their resources in return. This is a particularly useful tip for those seeking influence with potential employers.

5) Gain expertise by researching a subject.
While John and Jane Doe may have a love/hate relationship with the Liberal party, if they have an in-depth knowledge of anthropology (the study of society) that could explain this relationship, people would listen more readily than they would to Ray Jones who rails at Liberal corruption while applauding Liberal humourist Glen Feschuk (see my blogroll). Going back to the Gazette and Time letters, I presented myself as someone with friends in Spain, and someone who'd done his homework on obesity and portion sizes.

If this was helpful, it'd be nice if you posted a link to it on your own blog, and perhaps even blogrolled me. Of course, comments are always appreciated (and usually responded to), and if you'd care to see something of this nature on another topic, feel free to say so. Currently, I'm considering one on writing letters to the editor.


At 3:12 p.m., Canadian Politico Anonymous Anonymous said:

I think this is a great post. You should run a spell checker.

At 1:22 a.m., Canadian Politico Anonymous Anonymous said:

As an american college student, I considered this very helpful by encouraging me to have a presence in society. thank you


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