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Consulting Skills and the Importance of Influence Power

Are you familiar with the concept of position power? Even if you don't know the definition of the term, there's no doubt that you've experienced its impact. When you were in school, you probably contributed and did your homework not because you were influenced by somebody, but because someone with a particular position – the teacher – had power over you. In the corporate world, you probably had to perform certain tasks that were not particular inspiring. However, you did them because you had a boss who could hold you accountable because he or she held a position of power. Perhaps you've been used to getting results because you've held a position of power at certain times. If you're ready to hone your consulting skills to prepare for a new career, though, it's crucial to understand that position power won't do you much good. Instead, you need to work on developing your influence power.

What is Influence Power?

Consulting Skills and the Importance of Influence Power

As a consultant, you simply can't order your clients to do what is necessary. You have to influence them to do what's needed for improvement. Influence power is the ability to inspire someone to do something when he or she doesn't have to do it. You have no position power over your clients, and they can always say, “no,” when you suggest a plan of action. Therefore, developing your influence power is one of the most vital components of becoming a consultant.

Maybe you've been in positions of authority where you've thought that you had influence power because you've always said, “please” or “thank you.” Your politeness and respect were helpful, no doubt, but these pleasantries are not long-term motivators. In fact, your subordinates have always done things for you because they sensed a subliminal order within all of your requests based on your position above them. As a result, you might be surprised when the same approach yields less than satisfactory results when you become a consultant.

Thankfully, there are some ways you can hone and improve your influence power:

  • Be mindful of your interactions with others and make mental notes so you can improve your interpersonal strategies

  • Learn how to adapt to your specific audience – what you say to influence one group may not work with another

  • Understand that there are many communication styles, and the more of them you master, the better chance you have of influencing people

  • Let go of the notion that anyone will do what you say “because you say so!”

  • Understand your EQ, or Emotional Intelligence – by understanding your personal mood and feelings, you can relate more effectively with others

Are You Afraid of Sales?

When it comes to developing consulting skills, a number of potential consultants reach a stumbling block because they feel like they don't have any aptitude in sales. If you want to give your influence power a boost, you absolutely need to have effective sales skills. You might think that sales is a process through which you coerce other people to buy things they don't want or need. Our culture has created a vision of the salesperson as a slick individual who probably can't be trusted. Unfortunately, this definition of a person skilled in sales is not very accurate. In fact, you've probably acted as a salesperson your whole life without even knowing it, and I would be willing to bet that you don't see yourself as a slick, slimy or untrustworthy character.

Many people who are interested in consulting as a career just don't realize that they've been selling their whole lives, even though they've never sold any products. If you feel like this applies to you, think about this: you've had to sell your ideas to make things happen and get things done in your life. You've had to sell your peers and co workers on various concepts. You've probably had to sell your superiors on the idea that you deserve a raise. In other words, you're no stranger to selling.

Now that you understand the fact that you've been selling your entire life, you can begin to hone your sales skills. As you become more mindful of the fact that you are actually selling when you attempt to bring people to your point of view, your skills will improve. Additionally, you will be able to shake off any of the negative connotations of selling once you realize that selling is just another word for influencing, which brings us back to the key point of developing influence power.

Start Boosting Your Consulting Skills Today By Enhancing Your Influence Power

Although it's harder to drive results when you can't leverage your title for position power, you can start seeing the results you desire by improving your ability to influence others. Becoming a better communicator is key, even if you consider yourself to be quite skilled at conveying a message. There is always room for improvement, particularly if you've thought of sales in a negative light. You can improve your sales skills considerably by following some simple bits of advice, and it will translate into better communication and greatly enhanced influence power. Then, you can go out into the world with confidence, knowing that you possess the most essential consulting skills.

Are you interested in learning more from Buddy about how you can develop essential consulting skills? Click here to download your free copy of Buddy's book, “Experience Matters.”