What does it take to be Influential?

- August 7, 2012 3 MIN READ

Regular contributor Jeremy Liddle was nominated last month for our Young and Influential list for his work surrounding the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit. In this article he looks at what it means to be Influential.

What does it take to be influential?

Why did people follow Gandhi? Or Martin Luther King Jr.? Many scholars believe that it comes down to three C’s; Character, Competence & Communication.


Billionaire John Huntsman once said, “There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business – or life. There are, basically, three kinds of people: the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.”

Influence is based on trust and people first need to have confidence in your character to trust you. Character is who you are. In my opinion the most important parts of your character to develop are authenticity, humbleness and consistency. In order to build trust, and thus influence, you must have these three character traits. Now I for one know that it is impossible to have all of these things all of the time, but I definitely try to instil them in myself as much as humanly possible.

Unfortunately many people today try to compartmentalize their life, being one person in public, while they are someone totally different in private. Or they try to put on a show. The truth is, your true character always shows itself. Your character is who you are in totality. Are you trustworthy? Are you a good person? Do you care about others?

When I think of the people who have had the most influence on me, their influence isn’t based in what they have; it comes from who they are and how much they genuinely care about me.

We follow people because of their character.


Once people buy into who you are (character) they need to know that you have something to offer. Whether that is knowledge or skill (or both) – competency is essential for you to be influential.

Would you follow someone that’s incompetent? Hmmm. I’m guessing not!

People who are competent not only let actions speak louder than words in their area of expertise, but they should have other people’s best interests at heart… those people that seek learning from them. So they are always using their competency for positive outcomes.

The best way to increase your competency in any area is constant learning, practice and improvement. So make sure you take the time to become an expert in your field if you expect to have influence.


As a person with influence there is a message you wish you communicate, and if you can communicate it in an extremely engaging, concise and compelling way then it will be influential. Remember that verbal is only around 10% of communication, so you must also be a master of your non-verbal communication such as body language, intonation, facial expressions and eye contact.

In order to be influential you must also give consideration to the channels with which you can communicate your message, and how you will engage people.

Beyond the three C’s I believe the most important aspect of becoming influential is engaging with people on an emotional level, and genuinely trying to make friends with people. If you can genuinely connect with someone, then they are likely to trust your opinion. So how do you connect with people that you may not like? Find something about them that you do like. Easy.

Despite the fact that you may not end up best friend with everyone you meet, at the end of the day we are all human beings with the capability to connect on a human level. We all have that in common, and there are of course many other things that we have in common, you just have to find them! If you can find something that you respect within another person, and truly appreciate it, then you have a great chance of creating a connection with that person.