In last month’s column, we provided background on what the term “Influence” really means. This month we will explore what you need to do to lay the foundation to become an effective influencer.

Building a solid base of support and becoming known as dependable supporter are key to establishing you as an influencer. A big part of becoming an influencer is dependent on factors about you personally, such as your knowledge, experience, integrity and credibility... in other words, your overall reputation. While your day-to-day actions and track record contribute to your reputation, becoming an influencer hinges on one really important trait… your ability to really listen and actually hear what people are saying. Coupling all of these traits and skillsets together leads to becoming highly respected and trusted by your enterprise’s leadership, as well as your peers and subordinates. In a future column we will discuss converting what you hear into actions that affect whether you are perceived as an ally, threat or viewed as irrelevant.

All too often, in today’s word of emails and instant messaging, misunderstandings take place because people are unable to hear the tone or inflections put on certain words or phrases and how that affects the meaning of what the individual was attempting to communicate. The best way for you to avoid these miscues of communications is to establish a pattern of regular face-to-face meetings with senior executives, business unit leaders, other key opinion leaders, peers and a cross-section of employees within your enterprise.

Taking the time to effectively prepare for each meeting is essential to becoming an effective and successful influencer. Gaining an in-depth understanding of your enterprise and the forces that shape it is a critical first step in the process. For instance, have you and your team read the strategy document for your enterprise and clearly understand the mission, vision, goals and objectives of the overall enterprise, as well as its various business units and key functional elements? If you’re in the private sector, have you and your team read the company’s annual report and quarterly filing documents? Have you researched your sector and gained an understanding of the competitive landscape? Do you have a clear understanding of your enterprise’s footprint around the world, along with an understanding of the risks and threats in each of those environments? Do you understand the operational and regulatory landscape in the environments in which your enterprise operates? Don’t forget about gaining a thorough understanding of the structure, complexity and risks in your supply chain. Equally important is the knowledge of the logistics and channel partners that are engaged in one way or another in the delivery of your goods or services to the marketplace.

Once you have done your homework, you are ready to start having face-to-face meetings. Next month we will provide insights on how to effectively develop into a trusted influencer.


About the Columnists

Jerry Brennan is CEO of the Security Management Resources Group of Companies (, the leading global executive search practice focused exclusively on corporate and information security positions. Lynn Mattice is Managing Director of Mattice & Associates, a top-tier management consulting firm focused primarily at assisting enterprises with ERM, cyber, intelligence, security and information asset protection programs. He can be reached at: