by Robert L. Dilenschneider, author of “The Ultimate Guide to Power & Influence: Everything You Need to Know“
Whatever our profession, most of us want to grow our influence — even if we’ve never thought of it in those terms. After all, the ability to influence others is at the heart of success. It’s what makes us great leaders, persuasive communicators, and productive professionals. It’s what gets us noticed, listened to, taken seriously, hired, promoted, and generally respected.
It used to be that the building blocks of influence were self-evident. Intelligence (both IQ and EQ). Authenticity. Work ethic. Innovative thinking and problem-solving savvy. And, of course, the ability to convey these qualities in the messages we share. These are the things humans respond to. But when a force that’s decidedly non-human sweeps in and upends the status quo — what then? (Yes, I’m talking about artificial intelligence.)
The rise of generative AI is more than a technological wave; it’s a seismic shift that’s disrupting everything. It stands to reason that advances in AI will also change the way we build influence — but how? And how much?
Having spent more than five decades advising Fortune 500 companies and government officials and working with international media, I believe both those who fear programs like ChatGPT and those who fetishize it are missing the mark.
We can’t ignore or wish away the fact that certain tasks and even jobs may soon become obsolete. On the other hand, we can’t assume we can type a few sentences into a text box and, suddenly, we’re home free. We still must do the hard part — the creative thinking and the genuine connecting.
Here are vital strategies for growing your influence in the age of AI.
Think quality over quantity, substance over superficiality.
Yes, programs like ChatGPT can churn out content by the megabyte, but more isn’t always better. With the constant barrage of information, what stands out is meaningful, intentional communication.
Before hitting ‘publish,’ ask yourself: Will this content make someone pause and think? Does it say something relevant about your brand or field? If not, consider revising or even discarding it.
Seek always to connect unconnected dots.
AI might crunch numbers better than any human, but it’s not about to write the next great novel. (This is not to say that AI can’t write a book of sorts. It definitely can. But that book would surely be missing the spark that makes people think and feel.) The point is that there’s a gap that only human creativity can fill.
In every pursuit, spend time brainstorming new ways of approaching old problems. How can you see the unseen angles? What can you bring to the table that no algorithm can?
Prioritize real-world relationships. They still mean something.
A story from my experience. A client was fixated on leveraging social media for a significant project. I told him, ‘You have seven key people you need to influence. Forget the hashtags; have real conversations with them.’ He did, and it worked.
The point? Take some time to identify the real decision-makers in your network, the people who actually move the needle, and connect with them genuinely.
Authenticity matters even more in the Algorithmic Age. Look for ways to provide the personal touch.
Amid the deluge of impersonal pixels and machine-generated content, a genuine human interaction is like a breath of fresh air.
Think about it: When was the last time you received a handwritten thank-you note? What about a holiday gift that wasn’t a generic fruit basket but rather an original autographed copy of your favorite book? These gestures can be time-consuming, but consider the lasting impression they leave.
Embrace lifelong learning. (That includes AI.)
Yes, if we’re being honest, many of us will admit we find the concept of AI a little scary. But part of remaining a vital professional is stretching ourselves and staying current. Think of AI as a method for extending your abilities, not a threat to them. Just remember, it’s a tool, not a “get-out-of-hard-work-free” ticket.
It isn’t about becoming a programmer overnight. It’s about recognizing the applications of AI and data analytics in your field and staying ahead of the curve. It’s about gaining a working knowledge of a new approach, so you’ll at least know how to think and talk about it. Take a class, or just download ChatGPT and try it out. Familiarity alleviates fear.
As we navigate the complexities introduced by AI, let these strategies serve as your North Star.
The essence of influence isn’t about keeping up with the machines as much as it is reaffirming the qualities that make us fundamentally human.
Robert L. Dilenschneider, founder and CEO of The Dilenschneider Group, is one of the world’s foremost communication experts and leadership coaches. Dilenschneider has authored 18 seminal business and career development books. He has counseled major corporations and professional groups around the globe and is frequently called upon by the media to provide commentary and strategic public relations insights on major news stories.