Building Influence at Work

You don’t have to be a CEO, investor or even a senior employee to use your influence at work. In fact, it's a key component to job satisfaction, even for your first job.
The gradsingapore Team
Dawn Yip
Senior Writer
Building Influence At Work

If you’re fresh out of school and just starting your career, the idea of having or even building influence at your workplace seems a little far-fetched. You might believe that it’s reserved for top-level management, or those working in sales or marketing. Surely there isn’t any real reason to worry about influence at this point, right?

In reality, no matter your job role or industry, influence plays a big part in many ways throughout our careers, and there’s definitely merit to building it up, starting from your first job.


Reasons for influence

For budding leaders, the importance of influence is probably fairly obvious. After all, it’s difficult to lead a team if no one wants to listen to you. But as a regular employee who’s not in charge of managing anyone, how can it help you at work?

Despite its general association with power and leadership, the truth is that influence is often utilised at work in almost all areas. From having to persuade your team members to agree to your pitch to negotiating with clients to sign on as new customers, being able to use your charm and influence to lead others to make decisions that are favourable for you and the company will generally make your working experience easier and more enjoyable. 

Additionally, by using influence efficiently, you may find both your colleagues and clients to be more respectful, willing to trust you and take your views seriously, making it easier for you to succeed at your job. Plus, if you ever want to take on a successful leadership role someday, having an established positive influence in the office is usually a requirement.


Building influence

Influence isn’t something that’s attained overnight, nor is it something that comes easily to everyone. Still, it’s not impossible to learn how to cultivate influence; here are some things to remember that can help if you’re unsure of where or how to start.

1. Work on your connections

Trust is a big part of influence. People who trust you will be more open to accepting your suggestions and ideas, thus if you’re after influence, the first step is to establish your trustworthiness. Of course, trust is something that has to be earned, and the best (and easiest) way to do that is to foster positive relationships with your colleagues. 

You don’t need to get all close and personal; simple things like inviting them for coffee or lunch, helping them out at work or checking in on them in the morning can help you to build rapport and trust between you and your colleagues.


2. Accumulate 'expert power'

Knowledge is power, and in this case, being known as an expert (or at least knowing more than everyone else) can certainly help your influence. Even a fresh-entry employee can have the power of expertise  in the right situation; for example, if you’re the only person in the team with graphic design skills, people will be more likely to look to you for design-related advice or help. 

Of course, developing expertise takes time and effort. Figure out what you’re good at, and start working on it. Leverage on self-directed learning or even tap on company resources to take up courses and gain certifications if you can. 


3. Accept flexibility (and pick your fights)

As with everything in life, work won’t always go your way. You might even be met with resistance or scepticism, even with your best efforts. However, being rigid and adamant on your own opinion could hurt you more than it’d help your case; not many people are willing to deal with someone that’s too set in their ways!

Instead, embrace feedback. Listen to the other party before you try to persuade, and keep an open mind throughout. If they don’t agree with your stance, be prepared to compromise and move forward with another idea or point.

By keeping an open and cooperative attitude, this not only indicates that you value their opinions, but their insight could also help point out holes in your ideas that you might’ve missed out. 


Don’t fret if it feels like your influence isn’t quite at the level you want right now. After all, the path to credible and lasting influence tends to be a long-term (or even lifetime) endeavour. As long as you keep working on yourself and nurturing your professional relationships, you’ll be able to naturally build credibility and establish yourself as a trusted, influential person within your company.