When you consider words like power, selling, advocating and negotiating, they all really speak about one’s ability to influence. The Webster Dictionary defines influence as “the capacity of persons or things to produce affects on others by intangible or indirect means”. The interesting and somewhat surprising aspect of this definition is the mention of “intangible or indirect means” for achieving a result. It almost implies that there is something subtle or covert going on.
In truth, what this essentially is pointing to is the fact that most of us are not moved to do things purely for extrinsic reasons such as tangible rewards. Motivation guru, Dan Pink suggests that for many activities, particularly as they might pertain to power, selling, advocating and negotiating, it is more the intrinsic factors that are the driving forces.
However research conducted by Sinan Aral, at NYU’s School of Business suggests that the power of influence also has its limitations. He cites how Ashton Kucher has over 13 million Twitter followers but very few would actually act on what he might suggest. In other words he has in fact very little influence.
The key, according to Aral, to all this is the connection that exists between the person doing the influencing and the person being influenced. Think about it, people are more likely to act on the recommendation of somebody they know. In this context the missing link within the true power of influence is the existence of a relationship between parties.
So when you consider how best to exert power, sell product, advocate for a cause or negotiate an outcome, establish some form of connection or relationship first; it will have a huge bearing on your ability to influence the outcome.