Porter Novelli

sxsw 2016What an exciting time to be at SXSW! It’s my first year at the conference and to be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I did know that I would learn a ton. I set out with a packed calendar and a goal to see everything. I felt it was important to start off on the right foot, and the topic of influence struck me.

I kicked off my time at SXSW with Invisible Influence and Winning—a session on how to use influence to our advantage, not only here at SXSW but in our everyday lives. The session was led by The Wharton School’s Jonah Berger.

The key takeaway: we rarely realize the power that surrounding individuals’ influence has on us. What’s more, we rarely take full control of our power to influence others. Influence is, for the most part, unconscious but when we consciously set out to influence (for good) that’s when success happens.

It all sounds pretty straight forward but I find sometimes, the most seemingly straight forward things are often the hardest to grasp.

Jonah’s tips for consciously influencing our track towards success where:

  1. DON’T JUST SET A GOAL – WRITE IT DOWN
    • We need to be held accountable and it’s so much harder to fudge written goals.
    • We’re more likely to set ambitious goals when they’re written.
  1. DON’T JUST “FOLLOW THE LEADER”
    • Social proof is a powerful unconscious influence. In order to break through the noise and everyday life distractions, we sometimes need to take the road less traveled.
    • In that same vein, skate to where the puck is going, not where it is: to find the best next thing—think ahead, not on just the current.
    • Be curious about subjects you know nothing about.
  1. UNDERSTAND EXPLORATION VS. EXPLOITATION
    • We must be conscious about becoming too comfortable in our current situations. When we become comfortable with only leveraging the resources and relationships around us, which becomes exploitation. Continue to explore.
    • The best ideas come from exploration outside our comfort zones and bringing different thinking together.
  1. DON’T LET FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT) CONSUME YOU
    • Being present in a connected world is an art. Find the balance between sharing and presence as social media has been shown to potentially reduce enjoyment of our experience.
    • Studies have shown that when we take photos with socializing them as our motivator, we enjoy the experience less and focus on capturing the “perfect photo” more.
  1. ASK FOR ADVICE, WHEN YOU NEED IT AND EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T
    • When we ask for advice, we build relationships. There are multiple benefits:
      • The person leading advice feels like the expert
      • Views you as smarter for being willing you ask
      • You leave with new (hopefully helpful) insights

I used insights from Jonah’s influence session every day since I’ve been here, and I’ve tapped into the power of unconscious influence when networking. It’s must have tool for us all!