Remember the first time you heard about Twitter?
At the time, you may have scoffed and said you could care less about what someone ate for lunch. But years later, with 400 million monthly visitors, the social network that uses 140-character tweets shows that millions of people obviously feel differently.
Millions of people follow famous personalities or celebrities on Twitter to see what they think. Not content with that information, they also may regularly check Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites to stay abreast of what co-workers are doing or what industry leaders are saying.
That drive to know what others are saying or tweeting provides important lessons for those who want to be more influential, says Kurt W. Mortensen, author of Maximum Influence.
"Social validation boosts your influence," he says. "People will always believe someone else before they believe you. We think that if someone likes you or your product, then it must be good."
That means recommendations on LinkedIn or "likes" on Facebook can boost your influence, as can your ability to tailor your persuasion skills to individuals, he says.
"Probably one of the biggest mistakes we make in trying to influence others is trying to persuade them in the way we like to be persuaded — and not the way they like to be persuaded," he says. "Most of us only have three or four persuasion tools, and that's another mistake."
A person has many ways to persuade others, from conveying the right body language to telling stories that evoke emotion, Mortensen says. The key is listening carefully to garner enough clues to use the right techniques so the other person is moved to trust you and believe what you're saying.
"I'm not talking about manipulation," he says. "It's not persuasion if it's not a win-win for everyone. But if you believe in a product, then I believe you have a moral obligation to persuade someone to buy it instead of letting them go with an inferior product from someone else."
So if you have a great idea for your company, then you need to also find the best way to persuade your boss to accept it.
Such a move can be tricky because you have to be careful, Mortensen says. You don't want to step on the boss's ego.
"Make sure you're asking the right questions so that you're sort of leading the boss down the path you want him to go. Don't just dump data on him," Mortensen says. "It doesn't matter if he ends up thinking the whole thing was his idea. Check your ego at the door if you really want to get something done."
Whether trying to influence the boss or a roomful of colleagues, he says one of the best ways to get others to follow your direction is through the use of stories.
That story will help the most if it is emotional, according to a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School study. Researchers found that of 7,000 newspaper articles in The New York Times, those that go viral on the Internet are those that arouse emotions, such as happiness, anger or anxiety.
Another way to boost your influence: Don't make the mistake that only higher-ups have the power to make things happen, Mortensen says.
For example, a job candidate should (read the rest here)