I know you think you don’t have time, but this article will take you, at most, one minute and thirty seconds to read. Finish your tea, read about persuasion and get back to work straight after. It’s productive learning about skills anyway, right?
The art of persuasion is a tricky one to master, but it’s an essential skill to learn if you’re an intrapraneur.
As an intrapreneur, one thing you have to have in bucketloads is the skill to persuade. The biggest obstacle you’ll have as an intrapreneur is a rigid or traditional thinking structure in the company, in particular at middle management level.
How then, might you break through this?
At some point you’re going to need to encourage people to give you funding for projects that sound like they could carry sizeable risk. At some point also you might need to persuade a board that taking that risk is worth it. An intrapreneur may have been hired to innovate a stagnant company, and a stagnant company could be one that’s already blinkered and not able to see why an element of risk taking is good.
To persuade, to convince, are both essential before learning how to implement an idea. As an intrapreneur, you may have ideas rolling out your ears but until you’ve mastered the art of persuasion, you’re unlikely to get far with implementing them. So how do you become successful at persuading people to go beyond their instincts and do what you think they should do?
Adam Breedon, CEO and co-founder of Bounce, Flight Club, and All Star Lanes, said: "Although I think the ability to be persuasive is largely an innate quality, it can be learned. However, I would say it is less about it being learned and more about ensuring that the team of people you employ are passionate about the direction they are taking in life and in work. If someone completely believes in what they do, it comes across in how they communicate and has authenticity behind it. We can't fake or learn a behaviour – we have to embody it."
However, Adam thinks that in order to successfully persuade people within a company, it’s essential that the company has clear direction, or at least a purity of brand distillation.
"The company also has to have authenticity in everything it does. This way, it enables those that work in the company to buy into its goals – genuine and authentic goals – or better still, goals which intend to better people’s lives in some way. This deep sense of buy-in, combined with a strict recruitment process of selecting only those individuals who exude passion about what they do and what they think about a company’s products and goals, is how a company can foster these qualities.
"As individuals, the art of persuasion comes as a by-product of following your true calling in life; that you are engaged in something you love doing. More and more people are attuned to this today, especially the millennial generation and younger. If you are following your true passion, that passion shines through in everything you do and say, and persuading people of the value of your passions and beliefs will become effortlessly infectious. Otherwise, learned persuasion not backed up by this enthusiasm is an empty shell and everyone you come into contact with will be able to sense it.”
He adds: "You can’t fake it, and you can’t learn it without authenticity, but you can make decisions to ensure you are on a path where it unfolds naturally."
Having confidence in your idea means you’re naturally persuasive. "Confidence and charisma can persuade people," thinks Brian Lonsdale, managing director of Smarter Digital Marketing.
"I have persuaded new clients to come on board for web design and SEO projects by outlining the demand that is available online for their business. Firstly, I undertake extensive market research regarding the client's website, industry and competitors. This then allows me to build a bigger picture of their business environment. A recent example includes a client who has taken us on for a website re-design. He knew he needed most of the web process automated (such as reporting and billing). So, we proposed a solution that brought everything together and reduces the amount of time needed to be spent on the application process. By conveying that the new system saves time and money enabled us to persuade the client that this was the best approach for them to take."
Essentially, knowledge is power. As Brian adds: "Persuasion is having belief in yourself and your idea, without that you can't advance and build your business." The same goes for an entrepreneur trying to make waves within the confines of a big company.
Do the research, present to the appropriate people at a board meeting, and show that you’re a competent individual who understands the business - only that way can an intrapreneur become the change-maker - convince, persuade, and encourage people to invest in their ideas.