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5 Things Really Influential People Do

Want to make a real difference in people's lives? You'll need to learn to do these five things.
Martin Luther King, Jr. listens to staff members of the Southern Christian Leadership Convention during a meeting at an Atlanta restaurant in April 1964.
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The people you remember in your life are the ones who influenced you in some manner. These people make you sit up and take notice. They help you change course for the better.  It might be a teacher, boss, colleague, or maybe someone who influences you through thought leadership or public service.  These are people to be admired.

And you should be one of them. Not everyone is looking to be the next Jim Collins, Hillary Clinton, or Michael Bloomberg, but each of you is responsible to your own sphere of influence, even it's just your employees, friends, family, or children. Best to be intentional in your influence and cognizant of the impact you have, than to send the wrong message or worse, no message at all. Master these five actions and you'll effectively inspire yourself, the people around you and maybe even the world.

1. Become a World Observer

Most don't have the extra fold in the brain that Einstein had. Some people derive their genius from what they learn of the world around them. They pay attention to detail and ponder how it might impact their community. It's hard to influence if you don't know whom you're influencing. Be one who looks for important trends that will impact your community. There are plenty of useless pontificators out there, but real resonance comes from those who identify complex patterns in the universe and can provide simple interpretations and prescriptions for the rest of us.

2. Be a Compelling Writer

In today's world, content is king. The keyboard is the No. 1 method of communication. It doesn't matter whether you're sending your message through a tweet, comment, email, blog post, white paper, or book. You will be judged by how eloquently you can turn a phrase. Learn how to make your point clearly, concisely and in a way that connects empathetically. You'll have to practice. Find opportunities to write convincingly every day. And it helps to solicit feedback from your harshest critics. Being prolific won't automatically help you be more interesting as a writer, but it will give you more opportunities to see where you are boring, superfluous, and nonsensical, so you can make the necessary adjustments.

3. Be an Engaging Speaker

What's the point of you saying something if no one wants to listen to you? Speak proudly, clearly, and succinctly. Tell stories to make your point so people understand the context of your message. Don't just be chatty or boring. Make every word count. Exude energy and passion. If you aren't interested in what you are saying, why would anyone else be engaged? There are plenty of resources to improve your speaking. Use them. Don't assume you understand how you are perceived as a speaker. Have a friend video you, then force yourself to watch it and adjust. No need to let accents, impediments, nerves, shyness or a tendency to ramble get in the way of your purpose. These are all fixable issues if you are willing to be vulnerable and learn. If what you have to say is truly important, you have an obligation to share it with those who need to hear it.

4. Promote Appropriately

Get the word out that you have something to say, but use discretion. Shameless self promotion has its merits, but you can't just assume what you have to say will automatically be recognized as significant. Assess the situation and match your promotion to the proper forum. Constantly posting comments on blogs will be ineffective if all your comments have a blatant advert for your URL. (Smart people will click on your name and see the foolishness of your efforts.) Promote yourself through your wisdom and insight, and then people will want to follow you. Give them a taste of something brilliant and they will clamor for more. Manage your impatience, and build your promotion steadily. If you have to convince them you are brilliant, you probably aren't. Don't force it. If the substance is there the loyal followers will come and they will be worth the wait.

5. Find Ways to Entertain

Entertainment by definition means: To hold the attention of, pleasantly or agreeably. Whether you use humor, intrigue, or discourse, holding attention with a truly entertaining medium is the surest way to get people to entertain your ideas. Once you have their attention, people are open to what you offer. For a moment at least. Their attention is now yours to lose. Today's options for creative delivery are broader than ever.  Video is cheap, broadcast is accessible and artists are abundant more than ever before. Attempt creative and interesting ways to communicate in a memorable way.

Simply put:

If something important you wrote
You find you're obliged to promote
Find ways to be fun
Engage everyone
And you, everyone will then quote

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IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Feb 1, 2013

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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