All of us could work on our skills in influencing others - whether it is within a company, a family, or a group of friends. Within the corporate world, influence is a power that you can control with your supervisor, upper management, customers, and co-workers.
Don't confuse influencing, with the art of kissing up - it's not the same thing.
Livia, the wife of Octavian (Caesar Augustus), and mother of Tiberius, was one of the most influential people in Rome. She is not known for kissing up, but she is historically remembered as one of the most powerful Romans of her time.
Some people hold more power by influencing, than those who seem to be in power. Many of us have seen an administrative assistant, who ran a department, or an entire company.
So how do you start developing the art of influence? One of the best ways to start is to establish a reputation of integrity. Therefore, you should not engage in any backbiting, as it always takes away from your credibility. It may be tempting to jump on the band wagon, and express a negative opinion about a third party, but it will not develop your ability to influence the person who is not present.
As a matter of fact, gossip and slander will destroy your honor, with all parties concerned. Even perceived allies will question your trustworthiness, when you engage in backbiting.
True alliances are founded on loyalty, dependability, and straight forwardness. The bottom line is: You must be seen as a foundation of integrity, in order to be influential within a group.
The next most valuable ingredient is to be sincerely interested in helping others, and show your interest in them. How well you relate to the needs of others, will develop entire networks, and bonds that last.
Here is a personal story about network development.
I worked in a US based company, where 95% of the employees spoke Spanish as their native language. My job was to run a small department within that company, but I didn't speak Spanish. After the first day, I picked up a Spanish / English dictionary at a local bookstore.
My Spanish-speaking assistant wanted to learn English, and we helped each other during work, lunch, breaks, and after work. Within a year, we could both construct sentences in the otherís native language. We shared information about culture, music, and food.
As a result, we became good friends, worked in harmony, and we had a very productive department. Although my Spanish is a little rusty now, I still have an opportunity to speak it, every week, in my own company.
Just by taking the time to understand actions, culture, behavior, and a different viewpoint, you can cultivate influence. Developing influence shouldn't be for self-centered reasons. It is best when used for the common good of a group.