Being influential is all about charisma. You want to connect with people in a way that makes them love being with you–and remember you. How can you increase your influence?

I have a ritual I train my students to do before any activity where they want to increase their influence.

How to Increase Your Influence:

1. Intention

Before you go to a party, an event, a meeting or on a date you want to set an intention for yourself. The reason for this is because it keeps you focused. For example, maybe your intention is to meet really interesting people. Maybe it is just to have fun. Or maybe you want to impress people. Hone in on exactly what you want. Influential people know exactly what they want so they can be on a direct path to getting it.

2. Success Routine

While you are on your way to an event or getting ready you want to have a success routine. These are things you can do to pump yourself up and feel confident. Research shows that confidence is what makes you influential. So we want to get your confidence up before you go anywhere. You get your confidence up using your body language. While getting ready expand your body to take up space, increase your movement (listen to your favorite playlist and dance), roll your shoulders back and keep your head up. Studies have shown that this produces testosterone which makes you feel like you can take on the world, which is exactly what we want.

3. Make It All About Them

Most people think that being influential is about showing off how special and important they are. Actually the most influential people have the amazing ability to make the other person feel special and important. You want to do that 2 ways. First verbally, make it your goal to find out the story behind every person you meet. Ask them deep how and why questions, follow up with their answers. This makes people feel incredibly special and you learn about them. Second, you can make people feel special nonverbally by pointing your torso towards them. This is a nonverbal sign of respect and when you are speaking with someone you want to do this to show you are fully engaged.

4. Add Don’t Subtract

This is a hard one, but the most influential people have this mastered. When you are speaking with someone always try to add on to what they are saying. Add your own thoughts or ask for additional info. Try not to be a subtractor- these are complainers, negative Nancy’s or judgmental people. Get in the habit of thinking “what can I add to this”, not “what don’t I agree with”. It doesn’t mean you have to be a yes person, it just means that you always try to follow up and build on the conversation.

5. Have Stellar Nonverbal

The majority of our communication is nonverbal and we have talked about how to verbally influence someone with adding good comments and making people feel special. There are also nonverbal cues you can give that really help people connect with you. Here are two you can try:

  • Head Tilt: This is a nonverbal way of showing you are engaged and actively listening. When speaking with someone (especially in a loud room or restaurant) occasionally encourage them by giving them a head tilt to show that you want them to keep talking.
  • Lean In: If you have a really important point or you agree with what they are saying, slightly lean in and agree with them. This is like a nonverbal exclamation point and really increases connection.

The most important tip of all is to be yourself and really take a genuine interest in others. If you truly want to connect and understand people they will remember you and feel good about being with you.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and behavioral investigator.

I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.

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