Influence Secrets to Expand Your Online Network: Reach Out

Most things in life that you want, you need to proactively go after. Building your network falls into that category. Unless you have the luxury of being so well-known that your network grows simply by responding to connection requests then you’d better get busy. Start by reaching out. 

Reaching out was mentioned in last week’s post when I encouraged you to be social. Specifically, I said you should personalize your invite requests. This week let’s be a little more strategic about who you might want to reach out to and what you might say.

People You Can Learn From

LinkedIn isn’t just about connecting with people who might become customers in the future. LinkedIn offers a golden opportunity for you to learn from others. The opportunity in this form didn’t exist just two decades ago. In the past, to learn from other people you had to attend or purchase their courses, read their articles in magazines, or buy their books. Now you can read their posts, check out their online articles, and avail yourself to other content for free in most cases. 

When it comes to people you find interesting and can learn from, you can see their content by following them on LinkedIn. However, a better way is to connect with them and build your network. When you reach out to these people make sure you give them a reason. Here’s a sample message: 

“Sam, I’ve seen some of your articles online and read your most recent book. I’ve learned a lot from you and would love to connect so I can follow you more closely and learn more. Thank you for all you do, Brian”

This approach allows the other person to know exactly why you want to connect. By sharing a short message, they also know you’re not looking to get something from them other than learning opportunities. Outreaches like this tap into liking because it’s flattering to get a genuine compliment and I’ve found most people will connect. When they connect be sure to thank them with a short message.

“I appreciate you connecting with me. Have a terrific day! Brian”

People Who Might Become Customers

My niche is influence and most of my clients are in the insurance industry. If there’s an organization I hope to work with in the future, I lay the groundwork by reaching out to people at that company who are in roles I might work with and those who are decision makers.

I take this approach for a couple of reasons. First, I want people to see my profile and realize I might be able to help them. That’s tapping into authority. 

Second, as I start to build a following within the organization and people who work there see I’m connected to many of their peers they’re more likely to accept my request to connect. That’s using social proof. 

Of course, I send a personalized invite. It might go something like this: 

“Pat, I’ve been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. I see we know many of the same people so I thought I’d reach out to connect. Thanks, Brian” 

When the connection is made, I send a thank you message just in case the person simply hit “accept” and didn’t see my personalized invite. My follow up may look like this:

“Pat, I appreciate the connection. Enjoy the rest of your day. Brian”

It’s short and sweet, and quite often this extra step becomes a conversation starter. A word of caution here, and for your initial invite – DO NOT try to sell anything! This is about growing your network and it starts with relationship building, not selling. You don’t look to get married on a first date so don’t try to sell at this time either. Proposals and sales come later, sometimes much later.

People You Can Help

Networking isn’t just about what you can get. It’s also about what you can give. In the second post in this series, I wrote about creating and sharing meaningful content. Good content will attract people to you. It can also be a door opener for you to reach out.

When you see someone who you’re not connected to comments on something you’ve shared, acknowledge the comment. Next, reach out to connect with them using a personal message.  

“Kim, I saw you commented on my most recent article. Because you liked it, I thought I’d reach out to connect. Thanks, Brian”

I know I sound like a broken record right about now but when Kim connects make sure you respond with a personal message. 

“Kim, thanks for accepting the connection request. I hope you find what I share interesting and valuable. Have a great day! Brian”

If Kim didn’t notice your personalized invite she’s more likely to see that when you do the follow up message. 

Conclusion

Having a good LinkedIn bio is a great start to growing your network because people need a reason to connect with you. However, don’t think your bio will be so good that people will be flocking to you. You have to be proactive if you want to connect with people that you can learn from, people who might be potential customers, and those whom you can help. I encourage you to start today. 

After you read this article, think about what you’ve learned then reach out to at least one person using one of the approaches I’ve outlined. Next, start being systematic in your approach and I think you’ll see these tips will pay big dividends. 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories.  

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 350,000 people around the world.

 

Influence Secrets to Expand Your Online Network: Be Social

The term “social media” goes back to the mid 90s. There doesn’t seem to be consensus on who actually coined the term but it’s safe to say it wasn’t popularized until around 2004, when Facebook came into existence. As more and more social platforms came into existence “social media” became a household term.

Today too much social media seems to be broadcast media. To be sure, you can broadcast and be social but far too much that I see is simply broadcasting. By that I mean, some people share but never socialize. When that’s all you do then it’s media, not social media. What follows are three simple things you can do to put the social back into social media and build a strong network.

Reach Out  

Whenever you reach out, make sure you personalize your request to connect. DO NOT use the default, “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.” That’s seen as lazy and can come across as spammy because it’s so easy to do. That may not be your intention but nonetheless it might be what the recipient is thinking. 

And don’t use spammy messages like, “Hey, I just saw your profile. You’re amazing. I like to connect with like-minded people to help each other.” Yuck!

Use the person’s name and give a point of connection or pay a genuine compliment. I often get messages like these:

  • “I just finished one of your LinkedIn courses and thought I’d reach out to connect.”
  • “I read your book and would like to learn more, so I hope you’ll accept the connection request.”
  • “We have lots of connections in common. One person in particular is Joe D. He was a huge influence on me. Because of his influence and the mutual connection I thought I’d reach out to you.”

Adopt any of these approaches and your chances of making meaningful connections will go up immensely. 

Accept Connections

Even if someone sends me a default message, I don’t reject them, and you shouldn’t either. They might not know how to use LinkedIn or maybe they sent the request from their phone and didn’t realize they can personalize their message from the phone.

Here’s how you keep it social and build rapport; ask how they found you or why they reached out. 

  • “Pat, thanks for reaching out to connect. How did you come across my profile?”
  • “Chris, I appreciate you reaching out. How did you find me?”  

If someone does put a message in their connection request, acknowledge it!

  • “Sue, I really appreciate you letting me know why you wanted to connect. Most people don’t do that. Kudos!”
  • “Sam, I’m glad you enjoyed my [LinkedIn course, book, recent post]. Thanks for reaching out to connect. I hope you get a lot out of what I share.”

Each of the responses allow you to have authentic communication with people. Most will respond and that’s how you keep it social. 

Engage on Posts

When you post something and people comment, engage them by acknowledging what they had to say. They took time to comment and you should reciprocate by acknowledging them.

  • “Alan, thanks so much for the compliment.”
  • “Jean, I appreciate you taking time to comment.”
  • “Kim, I’m glad you got so much out of the article. Thanks for sharing it with your network.”

On the flip side, take time to share your thoughts on some of the posts your network shares. When you engage that way it’s likely they will engage in return. That’s how you build fans because they start to feel a connection with you.

Conclusion

Taking time to be social on social media is the way to meet great people and grow your network. By taking the approaches noted above I’ve connected with people from all over the world. I’ve also had the good fortune to meet many in person during my travels. The list includes Sean from Ireland, Dave from Scotland, Angela from England, Roger in Austin, Keelan from Chicago, Matt in Phoenix, and many more.  

If you’re not social on social media then you’re missing out on the best part of whatever your preferred platform happens to be.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories. 

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 350,000 people around the world.

Influence Secrets to Expand Your Online Network: Content is King

My LinkedIn followers are quickly approaching 10,000. Not bad for someone who isn’t famous. It’s taken a number of years and a lot of work but I’m carving out my niche. If I can do it, so can you. 

What am I doing to consistently build my followers and connections? I’d say the number one thing is content. I’ve shared A LOT of content over the years: blog posts, articles for periodicals, videos, podcasts I’ve been on, and more. As the old parable of the tortoise and the hare teaches; slow and steady wins the race. There are no shortcuts. I started small and continually added new ways to share.

Content is king because it’s your opportunity to tap into the principle of authority. Authority in a nutshell says two people can say the very same thing but the person who is perceived to be an expert is the one who will be listened to and followed. Content is your opportunity to share your expertise and build your online presence.

People will reach out to connect with you when they believe you have something to offer that is of interest or might help them. But it’s not likely they’ll know about your skills, knowledge or expertise unless you’re consistently sharing online. There are lots of avenues for doing this and I’ve listed a few below.

Writing

Writing is a great way to organize your thoughts and share your insights. This can actually help your speaking opportunities when they come about because writing forces you to organize your thoughts. There are many ways to approach writing. Starting a blog, guest blogging for others, or writing articles for different websites are great ways to get the ball rolling. 

Writing a book is an even bigger credibility factor. In fact, it’s huge! Writing a book has nothing to do with speaking but you’ll get more speaking engagements if you’ve published a book. Like a degree, a book is used in the selection process by many organizations looking for speakers. If you approach your writing opportunities in a thoughtful, systematic way you’ll be amazed at the content you’ll accumulate for your first book. 

Speaking

When people hear you articulate your thoughts that’s even more impactful than most writing opportunities. Two ways to get going here would be to start a podcast or connect with podcasters to get on their shows. 

Podcasting is a natural next step in content sharing and it removes the fear of public speaking that so many get when they know all eyes are on them. Most podcasts I’ve been on are very conversational in nature so they’re fun and easy.

Make sure you have something worthwhile to say then target the right podcasts and audiences to get the most bang for the buck.  

Presenting

Take every opportunity you can to get in front of groups to speak! If you don’t like this because you get nervous then join Toastmasters or some other public speaking group. I see this as one step up from podcasts because, in addition to hearing you, people get to see you and that can make you more memorable. There’s an immense credibility factor that comes when you speak and carry yourself with confidence.

Whenever possible, record your presentations because you’ll be able to pull clips to showcase your skills online and with prospective clients. If you can’t get on stage, create your own videos, share clips of online courses you may have done, and look to get on shows that will be recorded. 

Conclusion

A key to increasing your online network is to become a magnet for people. That means you have to be someone people want to reach out to. Your first step is to do whatever you can to showcase your expertise and content is tops in my book. 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories. 

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

 

Influence Secrets to Expand Your Online Network

Over the next several weeks I’m going to share influence secrets to help you expand your online network. Why now? As my old boss used to say, “When is the best time to plant a bamboo tree? 50 years ago, because that means it’s fully grown. But, if you didn’t do that then the next best time is today!” 

If you don’t have a strong online network already, then today is the day to start. That’s so because you never know when you’ll need to rely on your connections for help. Waiting until you need help might put you way behind the eight ball vs. having cultivated your network over time. 

Kudos if you already have a strong network. But don’t rest on your laurels. A big network is similar to compounding interest. It’s easier to make money when you already have money and it’s easier to grow a network that’s already large. I bet you’d enjoy having more money and I know you’ll reap the benefits of a larger network.

Large or small, here are a handful of reasons to start focusing on expanding your online network.

Personal Growth

Your network impacts you because you learn and grow from the people you associate with. According to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” With so many people on LinkedIn and so many diverse skills you would have to try hard not to grow if you’re engaging your network.

Engage Reciprocity

It’s not just about what you can get but just as much what you can give. Zig Ziglar put it best, “You can get everything you want in life if you would just help enough other people get what they want.” Sharing your knowledge, skills and content to help people will make them far more likely to help you when you need it because you’ll have engaged reciprocity. 

Door Openers

Your network can open doors for you that might not open no matter how long or hard you knock. We live in the busiest time ever, working more days and longer hours. We need filters and buffers to protect our time. When a trusted connection vouches for you it acts as a filter of sorts, a signal to the other person that they should engage with you. I know I am far more willing to meet someone on the advice of a trusted friend or colleague than a simple cold call. 

Make Friends

There are so many good people to meet beyond what they can do for you. I’ve met many people on social media that I call friends. We may not have done business and we may never do business, but I enjoy them. I’m better off for knowing those people because they’ve enhanced my life. 

Enhanced Authority

I noted earlier that your network is like compounding interest. The larger your network the more social proof you tap into. All things being equal, who would you rather engage with, the person with 300 connections or 3,000? Most people would go with the larger because there’s a host of positive assumptions that come with a large following. 

This week I just wanted to prime you to start thinking about the importance of your network. Next week we’ll start looking at influence approaches to grow your network and online presence. 

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was a new release bestseller in several Amazon categories. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on the application of persuasion in sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

 

Acknowledging People Who Need Acknowledging

All too often when a book is written and people are acknowledged for their roles, readers skip by. I know I have and I bet you have too. I don’t want that to be the case with my new book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents.

In this week’s post I want to share who I acknowledged in the book so they get their 15 minutes of fame and know how much I appreciate them. Not only that, if you’re considering writing a book you might just want to reach out to some of these people for help. They’re fabulous!

Jane and Abigail are my wife and daughter. Part of my personal mission statement reads, “I want to earn my family’s respect and be the kind of husband and father they can be proud of.” I hope writing this book adds to that. 

Anthony Iannarino for writing the foreword. He is a sales guru and I’m glad to call him friend.

John Petrucci was a coworker and boss for many decades. I cannot overstate how much I learned from John when it came to sales, leadership, and integrity. I was thankful to call him boss and more thankful to call him friend.

Nancy Edwards introduced me to Robert Cialdini’s work. She had no idea how sharing a video would change the course of my career and life. I’m thankful she remains a friend, coach, and editor of this book.

Robert Cialdini is both friend and mentor. You’ve seen his name throughout the book. Coming in contact with his work then him as a person changed my career and life. I’m grateful to him for all that he’s done.

The INFLUENCE AT WORK team of Bobette Gordon, Cara Tracy, and Eily VanderMeer have been incredible resources and friends over the years.

Clyde Fitch was an executive vice president at State Auto Insurance until his retirement. He was a consummate salesman who reminded us, “It’s all showbiz,” and encouraged us to “Go forth and do God’s work.” His “Clyde-isms” still resonate with me and that’s why a few made their way into this book.

Loring “Pud” Mellein encouraged me to get back into the field to interact with agents on their turf so I could better understand them and the challenges they faced. Pud also reviewed this book and gave me feedback based on his 40 years of insurance industry experience.

Jeffrey Pollock is a business coach who helped me think through aspects of this book when I felt stuck. Specifically, he helped me realize I could turn the book into a workbook of sorts for my Persuasive Selling Workshop.

Barbara Grassey is my book coach. She helped my first book reach Amazon best-seller status and become a top 100 influence book. I turned to her again for help marketing this book.

Michael Franzese created the cover for my first book. It received so many compliments that I had to ask him to come up with the cover for book #2. You can find him at Franzeseink.

Katlynn Henry worked for me when I ran The State Auto University. Because of her creativity and dedication to her craft during those years I asked her to create the online resources for this book.  

Dave Saliaris, Nick Glimsdahl, and Alan Demers are in a mastermind group with me. They continually checked in on the progress of the book and encouraged me to keep at it which was tougher than I thought it would be during the Covid pandemic. 

A special thanks to the following people who took time to read the book, give me testimonials and much needed feedback: Al Jannett, Rick Miley, Mark Blackburn, Dean Hildebrandt, Jason Cutter, Steve Berry, Tony Burkhart, Tyler Simmons, David Baily, Kurt Hetherington, Tory Pachis, and Meg McKeen.

Ann Strausburg is my mother. When I wrote my first book she always kept a copy with her. When people would ask what she was reading she would brag about her son. Now she has a second book to keep with her at all times.

Brian Ahearn is my father. As a youngster he set an expectation that I would always put forth my best effort and never quit. That came in handy when I hit sticking points with this book. He passed away months before I finished the book but I’m sure he would have enjoyed it and been proud.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world. His newest book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, reached Amazon bestseller status in several insurance categories.

Persuasive Selling is Available!

No doubt you’ve seen mention of my newest book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents. I’m excited to let you know it’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle!

I also have a bonus for anyone ordering the book before February 5 … free access to my LinkedIn Learning course on persuading different personality types, a $34.99 value! Once you order the book just email purchase verification to BookLaunch@influencepeople.biz.

The book is for more than just insurance agents. Anyone, agency or company, in the insurance industry will benefit from the tips I share. Why? Because we all have to sell ourselves and our ideas. Even if you’re not in insurance you’ll benefit from understanding how to ethically persuade at every step in the sales process and how to DEAL with different personalities.

Whether or not you buy a copy for yourself, I’d like to ask a favor. You could help me promote the book by doing one or more of the following:

  • Buy a gift copy for someone you know.
  • Mention the book on your social media sites.
  • Forward this blog post to anyone you know in the insurance industry…especially your insurance agent. 😊

My first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the Top 100 Influence Books of All Time and was an Amazon bestseller. Neither would have happened without support from readers like you. I’m hoping for even bigger things with Persuasive Selling so anything you do to spread the word would mean a lot.

Thank you!

Brian 

 

 

 

Persuasive Selling – My Story

The following is the opening to my new book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents. It’s my story about getting into insurance immediately after college. I hope you enjoy and consider getting a copy of Persuasive Selling for yourself and/or someone you know.

My Story

I’ve never met someone who said, “When I was a kid all I ever wanted was to be in the insurance industry.” Not one, including me. So how did a kid who grew up dreaming of playing pro football or becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger end up spending more than 30 years in the insurance industry?

As I was finishing my college degree, Travelers Insurance offered a job in my hometown, Columbus, Ohio. I knew nothing about insurance but liked what I heard during my interviews. The late Dean Williams, a Regional Vice President at the company, was so passionate about insurance that he reminded me of my high school football coach. I wanted to work for someone like that! Although I still knew next to nothing about insurance, the more I thought about staying near family, friends, and the girl I was dating, the more appealing the opportunity became.

I was hired as an underwriter, a role well-suited for my analytical mind. Travelers paid me to make its risk selection decisions for homes, autos, jewelry, and other personal items. Within a few years I’d moved to the commercial side of the house, making underwriting (risk selection decisions) for businesses of all types and sizes. After four years with The Travelers I jumped ship and landed with State Auto Insurance where I continued on the commercial underwriting side for a few more years.

My career progressed to the sales department. This was quite ironic because truthfully, I thought sales was a bunch of crap! I’d been beaten down for years by insurance agents over price and had come to believe all that mattered was price.

Fortunately, I met John Petrucci, who was the VP of Sales. John eventually ascended to an Executive VP role at State Auto Insurance. My learning went into overdrive. I learned more about sales in one year from John than I had in my first 10 years in the business. I started to realize what you say, and how you say it, could make a big difference when it came to winning a sale.

During my first decade in the industry I came to know insurance was a noble profession. I use the word “noble” because we do two very important things: we help people and we help the economy. When it comes to people, we help individuals, families, and businesses get back on their feet after something bad has happened. Helping people in that way is a very good thing, something to be proud of.

How does insurance help the economy? The guarantee insurance companies make on behalf of insured clients gives lenders comfort to loan people big chunks of money to open businesses, purchase new homes, and buy cars, to name a few. Because of those guarantees, a ripple effect moves throughout local communities: more businesses are opened, homes are built, people are employed, building materials are sold, etc. Indeed, insurance is a noble industry and has become a vital part of our country’s economic prosperity.

Then something life-changing happened in 2003…

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

How The Hell Did We Get Here?

Wednesday, January 6th, is a day we won’t soon forget. As much as we’d like to forget, it will be etched into American history as one of our darkest moments. I woke up from a short nap that afternoon, checked my phone and couldn’t believe what I saw – Americans storming our nation’s Capital Building! Like so many others, I turned on the television and was riveted in a way that I’d not been since 911. All I could think was how sad I felt and how embarrassed I was for our country. 

Like many of you I wonder; how the hell did we get here? Below is my take based on the psychology I understand and my world view. There’s no way to explain everything in a short blog post but I hope you’ll read through to the end so you can give thought to how you can help start the healing.

Rationalization Machines: We All Think We’re Right

I think it’s fair to say based on much of the research from social psychology and behavioral economics, we are not rational beings. We’re rationalization machines who act and then justify our actions. 

I’ve no doubt those who entered the Capital Building rationalized their actions as patriotic. Many will equate their cause with those who led the Boston Tea Party. Of course, that’s a matter of viewpoint. Many more Americans looked at their behavior labeling them terrorists and insurrectionists. 

Prior to the protests this summer, I think it’s fair to say the vast majority of Americans looked at Martin Luther King with pride believing his cause was righteous. However, many of those same individuals, when confronted with people trying to further social justice today, vehemently object. They will rationalize why now is different than it was in MLK’s day. It’s one thing to look back on history but entirely different to live through it. 

Just know this; whomever you’re dealing with directly, or watching from a distance, they will rationalize their behavior. It may not make sense to you but it makes complete sense to them. 

Mob Mentality: Social Proof Gone Astray

Social proof is the human tendency to look to others to see how to behave in certain situations. Understanding this natural human response, are we surprised that large scale protests are now breaking out from Trump supporters?

Beginning with the death of George Floyd, we’ve seen more and larger protests than ever across the nation. Estimates are, anywhere from 16-25 million people have taken to the streets. While the cause for racial equality is righteous, and most protestors were peaceful, we cannot deny what we saw when it came to looting and destruction in many cities. Unfortunately, peaceful protestors were painted with the same broad brush as those who broke the law. Now, many peaceful Trump supporters will be painted with the same brush.

The events happening across the country since May have sent clear signals when it comes to social proof:

  • When protests are big enough, even a show of force cannot quell them. 
  • Protestors can occupy some areas – CHAZ in Portland for example – with little or no consequence.
  • Attacks and destruction on certain places and structures don’t matter much because they’re just buildings and statues.

If you don’t think this is a real phenomenon I urge you to read Influence Science and Practice. In the chapter on social proof Robert Cialdini details how high profile suicides and school shootings lead to more suicides and shootings. Unfortunately, I think a similar pattern has emerged with protests turning violent. 

Perhaps now you understand how one side views the other and thinks, “If they can do it so can we.” We seem to have lost our way when it comes to operating within the confines of a peaceful democracy. 

Blatant Hypocrisy: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

Consistency is a rule of human behavior where people feel internal and external pressure to live up to their word. Not doing so is considered hypocritical and hypocrites lose their persuasive appeal. 

Laws, curfews, and other societal rules are meaningless when enough people decide they won’t comply or believe they are exempt for certain reasons. 

  • Witness mass protests at the same time we’re told not to get together with loved ones or attend religious services. Either gatherings are dangerous or they’re not but it cannot be that some are condoned while others are not. This falls squarely on the shoulders of our leaders.
  • Speaking of leaders, too many have told us one thing but done another. Examples include California Governor Gavin Newsome going out to dinner when no one else could, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot went to salons when no one else was allowed, and Donald Trump claiming he’s the law and order president but does nothing to reign in his most zealous followers. This list could go on and on with people from all sides. 

What leaders say and do matters! If they set the right example perhaps more people would follow their lead.  

Tit For Tat: The Ugly Side Of Reciprocity

Reciprocity, that natural feeling you have to give back to someone in the same manner as you received, is usually positive. Someone smiles at you or compliments you and it’s likely you smile in return or pay back the compliment. 

However, the ugly side of reciprocity happens when someone says or does something you don’t like. You return the insult or bad behavior almost reflexively without thinking. As I wrote about last fall, it’s a sick cycle and as a nation we’re in the middle of it. 

  • Chants of “Not my president” from disappointed democrats in 2016 will likely be met with similar sentiments from many disappointed republican voters when Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20th.
  • Trump supporters treated those who disagreed with them horribly, including verbal and physical assault at some rallies. Should we have been surprised then when people wearing MAGA gear were assaulted by those on the left?
  • Republicans held the presidency, Senate and House in 2016 and told those on the left, “Elections have consequences.” The tables have turned and this election will have consequences. 

It’s undeniable what goes around comes around. While it may feel good for the side that’s winning, it serves to slow or stop the healing and unification we so desperately need right now.

What Can You Do?

You may think you’re not part of the problem but that’s irrelevant at this point. The big question is: Will you be part of the solution? I certainly don’t have all the answers but I believe this; it’s going to start with dialogue. 

Dialogue is how relationships are formed and others are mended. Dialogue helps bring an end to conflict and sometimes it is how conflict is avoided altogether. I regularly talk with friends who are black so I can understand their perspectives and struggles. Trust me, if you’ve not had an in depth conversation with someone who is different from you, be it race, religion, sexual orientation, or politics, then you cannot truly understand them and their struggles. 

I also communicate with people on both sides of the aisle, republican and democrat, who hold different views than I do. In no case am I trying to convince them of anything. My goal, as Steven Covey said, is to “seek first to understand, then be understood.” 

I encourage you to start a dialogue. Do so with someone you know and trust. It should be someone who will not judge you when you ask sincere questions and who will allow you the freedom to share your views.  

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.

Quarterly Newsletter

2020 is hindsight and I think we’re all happy it’s in the rearview mirror! Given the pandemic the first three months of the New Year will be very hard but with the advent of vaccines and prospect of warmer weather ahead I think there’s reason for hope.

Despite Covid, I hope there were bright spots in 2020 for you. While we wish it hadn’t happened, all we can do is choose how we will respond. On the business front, not knowing with the future holds in terms of travel and in person workshops and keynotes, I’ve converted a spare bedroom in our home into a studio to film courses and do live training events. You’ll see more about that in the weeks and months ahead. What are you doing differently in 2021 given the world you find yourselve in?

Sincerely,
Brian

What’s Influence PEOPLE all about?

  • Why – Help you enjoy more professional success and personal happiness.
  • How – Teach you the science of ethical influence.
  • What – Speak, write, train, coach, and consult.
  • Who – Clients are primarily leaders, salespeople, business coaches, insurance professionals, and attorneys.

Starting a business then facing a pandemic in year #2 isn’t something I anticipated but with a pivot to virtual I was very fortunate. Despite the pandemic my second year was a good bit better than my first year so I’m very thankful for that. One last time I’d like emphasize this truth; we can’t change the circumstances we find ourselves in but we can choose how we respond. I hope you find ways to make 2021 better than you might have imagined and maybe, just maybe it will be your best year so far.

Here’s What’s New

Blog Posts

With the conclusion of 2020 I completed my 12th year blogging. April 17, 2021 will be the actual 12 year anniversary. For the past dozen years there have been weekly blog posts from me or guest writers. That’s a lot of writing! I hope what you’re reading each week is helping you. All of the blog posts are chronologically listed and tagged on my website. To search for any old posts click here.

Podcasts

I continue to be a guest on lots of podcasts. Another dozen or so shows were posted during the fourth quarter. Each show is hashtaged with #Influence, #Sales, #HR, #Marketing, etc., to help you locate shows that are most relevant for you. Click here to start listening.

Writing

My second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, is in the final stages of formatting. I’m shooting for January 12th as the pre-order date with the book being available on January 27th. Fingers crossed! The book also serves as the basis of a one day workshop for insurance companies and insurance agents. If your organization is interested in learning more about the workshop reach out to me.

Another way I used my 2020 pandemic lockdown time was to keep writing. I’m excited to share that I’m nearly halfway through book #3. The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness follows the life of John Andrews as he learns about what it takes to enjoy professional success and personal happiness through relationships. The book is a completely new writing style for me because it’s a story format. I’ve never had so much fun writing! I know I’m on to something good because, after listening to part of the book my wife Jane said with surprise, “I can’t be you wrote that!”

Best of…

Each quarter I share interesting content with readers. With an uncertain future socially and economically, sharpening your skills is the best way to invest in yourself. My old high school football coach drilled into us, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Continually working on your skills is the best way to prepare for opportunities that might come your way. Below are great books to read, podcasts to listen to, and shows to watch.

Books

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink. I’m a big fan of all of Pink’s books and read this book right away when it came out in 2018. Pink explores how understanding timing can help you in a variety of ways. In the opening writes, “This is a book about timing. We all know that timing is everything. Trouble is, we don’t know much about timing itself. Our lives present a never-ending stream of ‘when’ decisions—when to change careers, deliver bad news, schedule a class, end a marriage, go for a run, or get serious about a project or a person. But most of these decisions emanate from a steamy bog of intuition and guesswork. Timing, we believe, is an art. I will show that timing is really a science.” When is an excellent book but don’t just take my word for it. With more than 1200 Amazon reviews and a 4.5 star rating lots of other people feel the same way about the book as I do.

Online Influence: Boost Your Results with Proven Behavioral Science by Bas Wouters and Joris Groen. Full disclosure, Bas Wouters is a friend. However, my recommendation for the book comes because of his expertise in the science of influence. Like me, Bas is one of only a few dozen Cialdini trainers in the world. He teams up with Joris, a psychologist who specializes in translating human sciences into practical design guidelines for the online world. That’s a powerful combination! If you’re looking to improve your online presence and getting more yeses then this is the book for you. Many times I found myself setting the book down so I could tweak my website with ideas I was getting.

Podcasts

Leadership Lab Podcast is the brainchild of Patrick Leddin, Ph.D. Dr. Leddin is a former Army Ranger, author and professor at Vanderbilt. What I love about his approach is that he combines real world experience with research. But the show isn’t just his view on leadership. He has a variety of interesting guests on the show to explore very specific aspects of leadership.

Insurance Business Talk Podcast is hosted by Paul Lucas. If you’re in the insurance industry this is a show you want to sign up for because all of the interesting guests and ideas have direct application to your daily activities. Paul lives in London so guests and ideas come from all around the world.

Watch

Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is a 24-part PBS series hosted by Harvard professor Michael Sandel. Each 30-minute episode shows Sandel lecturing and interacting with his students. It will challenge your thinking! While it’s not all about racial justice, the topics explored will force you to look at and think differently about a variety of topics. I first watched this series many years ago over Christmas break and it remains one of my most enjoyable learning experiences ever.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world. His blog, Influence PEOPLE, is read by people in 200 countries across the globe.

PAVE the Way for New Year’s Resolutions

The following is a chapter from Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical. This chapter is particularly appropriate just before New Year’s Eve. I hope it helps you get 2021 off to a great start.

PAVE the Way for New Year’s Resolutions

If you’re like many people, then you make New Year’s resolutions; and, if you’re like most people, you break your resolutions within a week or two. According to one study, more than half the people who make resolutions are confident of achieving them, yet only about 10% do so.

That’s unfortunate because most resolutions are good! Here are some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions:

  • Prioritize family
  • Lose weight
  • Begin exercising
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce debt
  • Get organized
  • Stop drinking

The list is admirable so why are these goals so difficult to achieve for nine out of 10 people? There are as many reasons as there are resolu- tions and dwelling on those reasons would not be as beneficial as giv- ing you scientifically proven ideas that can help make next New Year’s different. I’ll share an influence technique that can help you PAVE the way to success in the New Year.

In the study of persuasion there’s a powerful motivator of behavior known as the principle of consistency. This proven rule tells us people feel internal and external psychological pressure to act in ways that are consistent with their prior actions, words, deeds, beliefs and val- ues. When we act in consistent ways we feel better about ourselves and other people perceive us in a more favorable light. Mahatma Gandhi put it this way, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”

There are four simple things you can do with consistency to help you keep your resolutions. These easy to implement ideas will help you PAVE the way to success because they’ll dramatically increase the odds that you’ll follow through on your New Year’s resolutions – or any other personal changes you want to make.

Public – Whenever you make a public statement, whether verbally or in writing, you put yourself and your reputation on the line. The mere fact that another person knows your intentions and might ask you how you’re doing, often motivates you to follow through.

This came to light in a study with a group of students who wanted to improve their college grades. One group was asked to share their goal with some people. One group kept their goals in their heads and a third group made no specific goal whatsoever. As you might guess, the group with the publicly stated goals succeeded, with nearly 90% of students increasing their grades by a full letter grade! With the other two groups the results were identical and poor. In each group fewer than one in six students improved by a full letter grade. It’s worth noting, they were all given the same study materials so they all had the same opportunity to better their GPA.

Recommendation #1 – Publicize! Share your New Year’s reso- lution with another person, or group of people, and ask them to hold you accountable.

Active – You have to actively do something. Merely thinking about a resolution, just keeping it to yourself as some sort of secret, will lead to the same results as people who don’t make any resolutions. In other words, nothing will change. However, when you do a few things, you build momentum towards your goal. Each active step gets you closer to success.

Recommendation #2 – Make sure you have to take some active steps. It could be as simple as buying a book about the changes you hope to make or writing your goals down and posting on your mirror.

Voluntary – This has to be your goal, not someone else’s goal for you. If you’re trying to do something – quit smoking, lose weight, get in shape – it’s not likely your motivation will last if someone basically forced you to do it. The goal has to come from you because if it’s imposed it’s not likely your willpower will last long. Samuel Butler said it best when he wrote, “He who complies against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Recommendation #3 – Make sure it’s something you really want to do – of your own free choice.

Effort – It was already noted that you have to actively do something. In other words, making the commitment should require some effort on your part and the more effort you expend setting up your goal, the more likely you are to succeed. Something as simple as writing down your resolution in a journal can make a difference but don’t stop there. Share it with others to fulfill the public requirement, which gives you more bang for the buck!

Recommendation #4 – A little more effort, like committing pen to paper in a daily journal, will increase your chances for success significantly.

How can you Influence PEOPLE? Sometimes the person you need to influence is yourself! Try to PAVE the way to your success and enjoy the results. If you’ve failed at your resolutions, or other types of personal change, then why not give the PAVE approach a try?

  1. Public – Share your resolutions with others.
  2. Active – Take some active steps.
  3. Voluntary – Make it your goal and own it.
  4. Effort – Remember, more effort equals more commitment.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world. His blog, Influence PEOPLE, is read by people in 200 countries across the globe.