Rebecca Perl from Messagelab Communications chats to Dee Clayton about becoming one of the most influential businesswomen in the country, and how we can all follow suit.
Last weekend, you won Silver in the Influential Business Woman of the Year category at the National Business Women’s Awards. Congratulations! What did that feel like?
Amazing! It really is quite an accolade to win a national award.
What can we do to start influencing others?
You are already doing it! Just by existing, we are influencing people around us. These people can largely be split into two groups: family and friends, and work colleagues and/or clients. It’s an interesting exercise to draw a web of influence. Put yourself in the middle and draw outwards in a spider diagram, naming everybody or groups of people you influence. There will be more than you realise!
So, we’re all influencers already. How can we become positive influences?
Well, it’s very common – especially in the UK – for people to unintentionally be a negative influence. We hear negativity all the time. When asked “how are you?” people answer: “not so bad” or “fair to middling.” And that’s before they’ve started moaning about the weather! Not only does this negativity spread to other people, but you get what you focus on. So, it’s better to focus on the positive. It’s not about pretending nothing is wrong. If you identify that something is wrong, it’s about figuring out how to solve it. Look at what you put out there – in the conversations you have, on social media and in the help you give people – and keep it positive. It’s not always easy to be positive; if you notice that negativity is creeping in, do your best to improve.
What can we do to proactively work towards being a positive influence?
It’s a great time of year to set your goals for 2019, to think about what you want for yourself and others in a positive way. Think about changes you can make, no matter how small, that will have a cumulative effect.
How do you know if your influence is working?
I’m lucky in that it’s easy for me to see the impact I have on the clients I coach – in their outlook, body language and actions. I also hear their next steps and actions and am always delighted that they are making positive changes and no longer holding themselves back. But if you don’t have a formal relationship with someone, you can’t necessarily see your influence. In that case, you have to practice patience and tenacity and just trust that you are having a ripple effect. You might find out later what effect you have had. Someone recently told me that after they attended one of my talks about five years ago, they made some lasting positive changes in their life. It’s great when you get to hear about the impact you’ve had on people, but it might never happen. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean you’re not having a positive influence, because you are.
To sum up, could you share your top tips?
If you want to be a person of influence, the first person you need to influence is yourself. Know that you are always having an influence, so start being aware of what you are doing. Always choose the positive path, and finally, have patience and belief.