There comes a point in your career when you may want to flex your persuasive muscle, it could be the quest for a promotion or establishing your public brand. Whether you're a student or a senior level executive, competition is fierce and there's never been a greater time to get noticed and be heard:
1. Less You, More Them
Decision makers care about what makes them look good, not what makes you look good. Develop a thorough understanding about what their priorities are both now and into the future. Ask yourself: How is my idea going to bring this individual the most value? Try and put yourself in their position and understand their limitations, their perspective and their goals. Once you do this you get a better understanding of how to approach them.
2. Get Noticed
You need to be able to stand-out effectively, leaders balance multiple priorities and individuals competing for their attention every day. Persistence is key; unless you've been explicitly told to cease and desist then you need to keep trying to make communication and not take anything personally if you don't hear back. However, make sure you don't come across annoying or desperate, there is an art to establishing communication. Most leaders are ok with 2 or 3 emails/follow-ups, anything further can be irritating so exercise calculated restraint.
3. Know Your Stuff
Come prepared, there's nothing worse than suggesting an idea, the idea being accepted and you not knowing how to follow it up. Be sure that you have the knowledge to respond to any grilling that your idea may take. Your decision-maker may have heard the idea before so making your case with evidence is key.
4. Have a Plan B
You've got their attention, but your idea or interaction is not being received as planned. You should have an alternative option ready on standby, this demonstrates that you're not only prepared but you have more to offer, appealing to a wider taste profile. The more innovative, the better.
5. Deliver Like a Champ
Practice your pitch! This seems obvious, believe me it's not. You want to make sure you come across as the right person to deliver the advice you're giving. Often times, the way that you are delivering a pitch can make or break it, you don't want come off arrogant or insecure. Be concise and to the point while selling your idea passionately, this will allow for follow-up if they're interested.
6. Do Your History Homework
It's extremely important to consider the past, present and future position of the company/government that your decision-maker is leading. If your idea or input has already been tried and it failed, your decision-maker will not be impressed let alone responsive.Think of the mistakes of the past and use them as reminders of what not to do or as a roadmap of best practices. This can help you in your pitch. Notice that some of the best orators of the 21st century who have successfully swayed the masses have always referred to history as a source of credibility, inspiration or lessons-learned.
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