Expanding your sphere of influence takes time and commitment, but it is well worth the effort to develop a powerful presence at your firm. The skills you’ll acquire during the process will make you a more effective leader and position you as someone people look to for advice and guidance. Gaining influence will also provide more opportunities, whether it is being asked to join the Executive Committee or being selected to lead a practice group. And the benefits don’t stop there. As an influencer you will have leverage to advance initiatives that are important to you and your clients – and the ability to gain your colleagues’ support for these initiatives.
Here are five strategies you can employ to expand your sphere of influence at your firm:
Cultivate personal connections.
Developing a strong network is critical. Get to know people throughout the firm – from partners and associates to the staff in your IT and marketing departments. Connect with people who are different from you in terms of work style, position, gender, culture or beliefs. It’s important to cultivate relationships across the board. Take the time to do some research and be strategic in your outreach. Which attorneys and staff members should you connect with first before widening your circle? Use information that is readily available, such as attorney bios and staff member LinkedIn profiles, to get background information and look for common connections. You will likely find information that will help you foster relationships with your colleagues on a personal level.
Hone your expertise.
Develop a depth of knowledge in your area(s) of practice and your clients’ industries. Attend conferences, read relevant publications, and take on a role in a legal or industry organization. Continually look for opportunities to fine-tune your skills. Not only will you become more educated on various topics, you will also begin to build a profile within your practice area(s) and your clients’ industries. Let your marketing team know about your initiatives so they can include pertinent information in your bio and promote it in the firm’s internal newsletter. Ask if there are opportunities to take what you’ve learned and write articles for the firm’s blog. You can also take the content you’ve developed and publish it on LinkedIn. All of these steps will help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your particular area of expertise.
Listen and seek opinions.
Whether you are cultivating a new connection within your firm or working on a matter with someone you already know, take the time to seek out their opinions and listen to what they have to say. People like to be heard. They want to know they have a voice in what happens at work and that someone will listen to what they have to say. Rather than rattling off your ideas and opinions, make time to listen and let your colleagues know you value their thoughts and input. Taking the time to do this will help you build rapport with your co-workers.
Ask questions and provide solutions.
Every day, every meeting and every phone call are opportunities for you to determine what needs improvement, how things can be done differently or better, what problems exist and how they can be fixed, who you should connect with and how, and how you can inspire and motivate colleagues. Keeping these questions top of mind and being proactive about providing solutions will establish you as someone who is innovative, takes initiative and gets things done. When issues arise, colleagues will turn to you for solutions.
Develop internal champions.
When there is an initiative that is important to you or your clients, outline how your solution will benefit you and others within the firm. Develop talking points so you can easily explain your idea and its benefits. Think about your internal connections and determine who will support your proposal. These individuals can champion your cause to others within the firm who you don’t know. Equally important, determine who won’t support you and develop a strategy to win them over by going back to your talking points and highlighting what is in it for them, how it will benefit their clients and how it will benefit the firm.
If you are looking to improve your skills and broaden your sphere of influence, contact Dan McCormack & Associates and learn how executive coaching can help you become a powerful presence at your firm.