1. Make your handshake work for you and not against you. A well received handshake in the United Sates includes the following: Put your hand all the way into the others person's hand. Do two or three pumps with a firm but not too hard squeeze. Look deeply into one eye and hold your gaze to the silent count of one locomotive, two locomotive. Get interested in them by asking questions and occasionally using his/her name. This handshake method generates trust and openness. The rules are the same for men and women.
2. Handwrite notes of appreciation. Be genuine, specific, timely and personal. Here is an example of a well received note: "Jim, your extra effort in helping citizens understand our watering policy is very encouraging. Several people have commented that they like your extra effort and attention to detail in explaining their options. Your efforts make our department stand out. It is a pleasure to work with a professional. All the best, Joan Larr". Having blank thank you notes, envelopes, stamps and a blue ink pen, in one location increases the chance that notes will be written and delivered. Save notes received from others in an easily accessible file. Occasionally look at the notes for an uptick in attitude. Since handwritten notes are rare, they are preceived as valuable.
3. Close the communication loop daily. When you know something that others do not know, the communication loop is open. Let others know quickly when there is a change of plans of any kind. Send an email with a return receipt or phone affected parties regarding the new information. For best results, speak in person to affected people so they get the message soon and have the option of altering their associated activity. "Closing the loop" so all have the same information in a timely matter builds your reputation as an adept communicator.
4. Dress well, look good. Looking sharp tips influence in your favor. Dress one notch above your peers. Accessorize your appearance with a good looking high quality writing pen and a highly functional two compartment business card wallet for storing and receiving business cards. Take notice of the appearance of someone that is successful and emulate the points that best serves your situation. People you encounter throughout the day will show you respect when you look sharp. Appearance does matter.
5. Find a mentor, be a mentor. Ask your mentor questions that focus on your effectiveness. For example: "What is one thing I could do to increase my influence with our management team leaders?" Listen to the advice and ponder it for a few days and, if it makes sense, go ahead and give the new idea a test drive. A mentor can be anyone that knows your habits. Having multiple mentors is wise. Go to the mentor that has the expertise that you need. When you are the mentor, ask questions and clarify the need. Be slow to give advice. Help the other person discover their potential. It is more about discovery than it is about providing information.
Share the things you do to impove your influence with others. I would appreciate hearing from you.