What Makes You an Influential Person? It’s Really About These 4 Things...

Are we born influential?

Are we born influential?

The popular books on the science of influence have a lot to say about what makes a pitch, a product, or a situation compelling.

But I wanted to know…what makes a PERSON influential?

It turns out that influence isn’t something that you DO, it’s something that you HAVE.

…and it’s not one thing. It’s four.

Get them all right and people will follow where you lead and listen when you speak. Get SOME of them right, SOME of the time, and your influence will depend heavily on the situation that you’re in. Get NONE of them right and well…you’re milquetoast.

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It’s Painfully Obvious to EVERYONE When You DON’T Have Influence.

But even those who DO have it, don’t have it all the time. Imagine a powerful CEO who absolutely crushes it at work, but he’s a doormat at home with his wife and kids.

Or a kid who gets picked on at school, but really “comes out of her shell” as a leader while on the soccer field.

Why is it that your employees will listen to Ellen before they listen to you?

What’s Going On Here? What Exactly IS it that Makes You Influential? …And What Takes It All Away?

1. What you say and how you say it matters.

Like it or not, great salespeople and motivational speakers are influential because they’ve learned what to say and how to say it. They choose their words carefully, weave them together, deliver them with a strong voice and powerful body language. Your words (written or spoken), the order of those words, how your voice sounds, and what your body and face are doing all add up to a significant chunk of the influence pie. But they’re not everything.


2. the other person’s perception of you matters.

Much of what makes you influential doesn’t live inside you, it lives inside the mind of the other person.

First, do they see you as similar to themselves? If they see you as a total stranger, then you won’t be as influential as someone who is connected to them in some way. Are you seen as an “insider” who runs in their circles? Are you a friend or family member? A coworker? Do they LIKE you?

But also…do they RESPECT you? The other major factor is how your social status is perceived in relation to theirs. Basically, it’s about whether or not you “alpha” them? This can happen because of your dominant personality style, your higher job title, your superior accomplishments, or even your outfit.

Whether or not you are liked and/or respected factors in to whether or not someone will respond positively to your ideas.


3. Your Listening Skills (or lack thereof) matter.

"You don't talk people into a sale, you listen them into a sale."

“Great salespeople should only be doing 15-20% of the talking.”

I recommend listening on four levels. Individual, tribal (what small group are they a part of?), cultural (what large group are they a part of?) and human.

The ITCH bullseye of understanding. Taken from  The Four Levels of Influencing People

The ITCH bullseye of understanding. Taken from The Four Levels of Influencing People

If you’re working closely with someone who is an Indian American and works at Bose Speaker Corp., then it is your responsibility (and your advantage) to understand humans, Indian Americans (cultural), and Bose employees (tribal). But if you stop there and skip the part about understanding the individual, then you are simply stereotyping.

If I feel like you “get me,” then I’m more likely to listen to you. If you don’t take the time to understand me, then our interactions will feel “salesy” or manipulative. After all, you don’t care about me, you just want to get your way.


4. How TRUSTWORTHY you are matters.

There are many factors that add up to trustworthiness, some of which are listed below. The bottom line though is, if I don’t believe you, then I won’t listen to you.

Your Personal Reputation
If you bend or break ethical standards to get your way too often, then the crowd will correct for that. Call it gossip. Call it word-of-mouth. Whatever it is, you can be sure that your reputation will precede you.

Your Track Record
Do your past results speak for themselves? Can you prove it? Is your track record consistent or spotty? Are there letters after your name that mean something to me? Have you earned an impressive title such as “NY Times Bestselling Author” or “CEO”?

Skin in the Game
If you’re telling me to invest in a stock that you aren’t investing in yourself, then why would I believe you? People who put their money where their proverbial mouths are are seen as more trustworthy and therefore, more influential.

The Crowd
Instagram influencers, celebrities, and the icons of industry all have social proof working for them. Huge numbers of people know who they are and whether we like to admit it or not, the opinion of the crowd affects our own.

Authenticity and Vulnerability
If you’re “real,” then you’re more trustworthy - and more influential - than someone who is phony or disingenuous. There are some who can fake sincerity, but not many who can do it convincingly. Your best bet is to keep it real.



You’re not born with influence. You cultivate it. Influence is not a personality trait, it’s a habit. That means it’s attainable for anyone. All you’ve got to do is master these four levels…


For more about the four levels, and how to build your own influence, grab a copy of The Four Levels of Influencing People.

Comment Below and Name One Influential Person You Know!