Influence; something a lot of geeks lack, but a lot of business people have. It is something that you almost need in order to get anywhere in a business setting, or to have your voice heard. It is also something that can easily get confused with power. However, there is a difference, and kind of a big difference. You see, there is this book that puts this all into perspective for us called the Geek Leader’s Handbook. The handbook states that Power is having the ability to affect someone’s observable behavior, however, Influence is the ability to affect someone’s inner state. So, yea, there is a big difference there, but the real problem is, how does a geek get this oh so needed influence?
This is where it gets messy, because this is where a geek needs to get emotional. You are wanting to move someone’s thoughts and feelings, there for you need to show this. You need to get into whatever you are trying to influence your audience about, otherwise, not mush will get done. There are three steps you can follow to help you with this. First off, the people must be open to being influenced by you, you must be willing to change their inner state, and finally you must be able to move them to think, feel believe differently. If these preconditions are not met, then good luck, because without any of these, your influencing will go out the window.
I think that the more geeky people look at the fact that they need to become kind of emotional with others to try to get them to be influenced, and then just want to run away from the situation. Not only this, but the fact that the belief system of most technical people gets breached by influencing is another issue that a geek will face. Yes, you will run into these issues, however, when you are dealing with business people and you are trying to get just about anything done, they want some emotion from the situation. It is almost like emotion is what runs some meetings, Not logic. Yes, no logic is usually needed. Do most humans even consider logic anymore? No, because common sense and reason are almost obsolete anymore, so just throw that out when you walk into the room.
For all the geeks out there, this will be a challenge because yes, you will have to interact with people and get on an emotional level with them, and temporarily think outside of your comfort zone. However, this is what you will have to endure if you want to keep making good technology for your customers, you will have to show some emotion, and empathy. Yes, you have t show that you care, otherwise, you will more than likely be out of business before long. You have to kind of conform yourself to how you think you should act in front of your clients. If you show them that you are on their side, and that you are there for them to give them what they need in a product, then you will probably sell them on staying a client to your company. Otherwise, you will lose them, more than likely. Once you have gotten them to think that you are on their side and that you are the man/woman for the job, and that you will deliver a great product, and also that you will be there for them, but not only this. Also that you have opened yourself up to their ideas, their side of the story, and that you have made yourself emotionally available to them. It is then that you can influence them and it is then when you can move up in the world and be able to keep your clients and keep making great technology, the thing you love to do.