In last month’s column, we provided background on “Laying the Groundwork to Become an Effective Influencer.”

After conducting all of the research on the company that we laid out in last month’s column, there is one more element of research that is essential.  Last but not least, research the individual(s) with whom you are going to meet.  Building a personal connection with someone is vital to creating a compelling reason for the individual to want to listen to you in the future and to consider your views. It also goes a long way to gaining their future support for initiatives you will be fielding. You will want to find out things like: where did the individual go to school?; how long has he or she been with the company?;  what roles or positions has the individual held in the company prior to their current position?;  where did they previously work?   This type of research can significantly assist you in having a productive discussion with the individual and provide you with opportunities to “connect” with them.

It is important to be extremely careful not to make it appear that you conducted a detailed background investigation on them. Use great caution and discretion when crafting your questions so you do not come across like you are conducting an interrogation.  Be prepared with alternative questions if you get the sense that the individual is in any manner uncomfortable with any discussions involving their life or their past.

Your first round of meetings should be focused 100 percent on the executive with whom you are meeting.   Focus on establishing a connection on a personal basis; this is where your powers of observation come into play. What an individual displays in his or her office can provide the icebreaker you need to begin the process of building that all important personal connection. Look for a diploma, pictures of the family, sports team memorabilia, anything that will give you the opening to use the research you have done to help build that all important connection that will serve you effectively in the future. Most people really like to talk about themselves, their accomplishments and the things that shape who they are.

(By the way, if you have not read the book “It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone” by Robin Dreeke, go online and get a copy.  The book is an easy read and will arm you with an arsenal of tools that will greatly assist in preparing yourself to become an effective influencer.)

Next month, we will home in on using your skills as an influencer gaining insights lead to establishing the kinds of programs that are properly aligned with the goals and objectives of the enterprise.