A powerful skill you should work on is expanding your circle of influence through intentional networking ……

When I was little, every time I would leave home to go to school or practice soccer, my father would encourage me by saying, “Be a leader!” But Dad, as the door closed behind me, I would say to myself, “I’m not a leader; I’m just one of the wolves in the pack. I don’t lead anything!

When we think of being a leader, we usually think of being a boss. Most of us grow up in an environment where being perceived as a leader is tied to your position or title. It’s unfortunate if you find yourself at the center of an organization with neither a title nor authority. Even more unfortunate is that when you are offered a position with a title, your influence depends entirely on your title. People follow you because they have to; you are the boss.

On the other hand, if you know that leadership is about influence, you will devote your time to developing your influence in the middle of the organization, from top to bottom, top to bottom. That way, when you get a position with a title, people will follow you because they want to, not because they have to.

Networking Your Influence

No matter where you are in your organization, you should strive to learn the powerful skill of expanding your circle of influence by consciously networking and connecting with others. I say “intentionally” because this is not a natural activity for many of us who become entrenched in our specific roles and build our influence only in our small circles.

5 Ways to Expand Your Circle of Influence

Why do you want to increase your network and friends? If you wish to grow and develop as a leader, you must expand the relationships you enjoy beyond your current areas of expertise and strengths. When you are able to connect with a more diverse group of people, you will accelerate your growth as a leader. Here are five ways to expand your sphere of influence

  1. Join communities of interest. Whether online or in person, find places where people who share your interests gather. A think tank, association, chamber of commerce or Toastmasters may be a place you can connect.
  2. Be curious. When a new relationship comes along, talk to them, not you. This is a skill worth developing. When others find your presence valuable, you are more attractive to them.
  3. Be teachable. Enter these new relationship circles with the intention of learning from others. Don’t pretend you’re perfect or have all the answers. Ask good questions and listen carefully.
  4. Be relatable. Humility is an important leadership skill that doesn’t get much airtime these days, but when you are humble and teachable, you become easier to relate to others. People want to be with authentic people.
  5. Be generous. Have an abundance mindset and be generous in sharing with others. Share your time, ideas and other resources to help others grow and develop.

It’s easy to think we’re too busy to invest in developing new relationships, but the return on that time investment can help you develop your influence among your peers, which in turn can help you grow as a leader.