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How To Influence The Industry You’re In

How To Influence The Industry You’re In

Anyone who desires to have a career that transcends a typical 9 to 5, more than likely desires to add value not only to their organization but also to their industry itself. But just how do you begin to influence an industry that has been around for years, that you’re new to, or trying to reposition your brand in?  I can remember being new to my career and new to my organization where my tenure, age, and experience seemed to be 15 – 20 years junior to everyone else’s. I would often times wake up thinking and enter meetings wondering, how will I be able to influence others today?

Whether your industry is small and easy to navigate or overwhelming and you’re not sure where to start, here are 5 of the best ways you can learn to influence and benefit your industry:

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Identify what type of influence you want to have

Influence pic

    Leadership expert, John Maxwell, is famously quoted for stating that “Leadership is Influence–Nothing more, Nothing Less.”  So if influence is all about leadership, who are you leading?  What problem would you like to solve in your industry? What key message do you feel like is important for your industry peers to know about? And even more importantly, how can you add value to those you would like to impact?  Your influence will consistently grow the more you serve and add value to others at all levels, not just other influencers.

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    Establish yourself as a credible expert 

    Speaker giving presentation in lecture hall at university. Participants listening to lecture and making notes. Copy space for brand on white screen.
      Credible Expert

      Many people only take a semi-proactive approach to their career by at most attending industry conferences, local trainings, and online webinars. However if you really want to take your industry by storm don’t just attend the conferences,

      • Answer the call for speakers and submit a proposal to speak.
      • Start publishing articles in your industry’s publications, write white papers, and guest blog on reputable blogs.
      • Become a published author to get your message out to the masses.
      • Leverage resources where your peers and other key influencers are such as LinkedIn
      • Collaborate with other business and key influencers to make a bigger impact together

      No matter which route you take, whether you do some or all of the above, the only way you can tremendously influence others is through establishing your credibility!

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      Identify future trends and talk about what’s next

      Male sneakers on the asphalt road with yellow line and title Future. Step into the future.
        Identify Future Trends!

        The easiest thing for anyone to do is to talk about what’s wrong. Any expert can go in depth about problem number 1, 2, 3, or 4. Historical context is always great but I also remember hearing previous bosses say to the team, “don’t come to me with a problem, come to me with a solution.” However, industry leaders create significant influence not just by studying the past, but by linking it to the right pro-active solutions. Pro-active solutions that can lead to disruptive innovation and change how an entire industry goes to business, like the invention and rapid growth of social media (no pressure). When looking to gain more influence in your industry be sure to answer questions for your peers like, what do they need to be preparing for? What’s changing in the near future? etc.

        Be Different

        Brand new color pencils right out of the box for school supplies.
          Be Different!

          Not only are others looking for pro-active solutions to age-old problems, they are also looking for innovative and unique perspectives that transform how they go to business – but being different can be tricky. For some it comes naturally in which most often that person is always comfortable in a healthy debate that challenges thought processes. For others, pushing the envelope and causing any level of discomfort brings heightened anxiety. No matter which side of the spectrum you fall on, influencing your industry tremendously doesn’t happen by sharing and repeating what others already know. It happens by someone like you sharing not only what they don’t know, but also what they need to hear! Where are you willing to show up and push the envelope?  In order for others to think differently, we have to challenge ourselves to show up differently.

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          Start where you are

          Young people working in the office
            Start where you are!

            Before you can influence an industry, make sure you are able to influence those that are closest to you first. What would your direct reports, peers, and boss say about you now? Would they consider you an influencer on your team? How about in the wider company? The desire to influence your industry is great, just make you are known for adding value and serving those in your own backyard first. The more you influence and serve those closest to you the easier it will be to assimilate into larger circles of influence!

            If you’re not sure where to start or how to expound upon your existing influence, start with #5 above, exactly where you are. The message you wish to share and multiply across your industry will first be developed in the trenches of the ones your work along side with the closest.

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            Last Updated on April 23, 2019

            How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

            How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

            Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

            While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

            For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

            While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

            I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

            Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

            Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

            Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

            The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

            Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

            What Is a Stretch Goal?

            A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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            In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

            For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

            This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

            It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

            The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

            The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

            I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

            Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

            1. Get Outside of Your Head

            If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

            If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

            I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

            Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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            2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

            When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

            I see this in so many areas of life:

            When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

            In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

            “Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

            Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

            3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

            When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

            The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

            For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

            We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

            From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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            When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

            Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

            4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

            S.M.A.R.T.

            is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

            While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

            Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

            For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

            By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

            5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

            I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

            The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

            When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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            One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

            Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

            I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

            A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

            As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

            From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

            The Bottom Line

            These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

            For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

            Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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