Ever heard of the Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Rober Cialdini? This is one of the most important business books ever written for leaders and people in sales and marketing. This is a book to read once a year to remind if yourself how to build authority and influence because it’s not common sense.

The Weapons of Influence:

  • Reciprocity – People tend to return a favour. Thus, the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, he often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1937. On a personal note if you invite people to a party at your house, you’re much more likely to get an invitation to a party at their house.
  • Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, verbally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honour that commitment. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honour the agreement. For example, in car sales, suddenly raising the price at the last moment works because the buyer has already decided to buy.
  • Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
  • Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents, such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
  • Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favouring more attractive people are discussed. Social proof is a specific way to create the impression that you are popular or liked by people. Sometimes I see rich old men, with young hot young women and I realise one of the unconscious reasons for this is they both gain influence.
  • Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.

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Anyway I wanted to share this with you because it’s vital to gain status in the 21st century. That’s way to much work. Instead meet high quality people to gain access to THEIR social circles. This creates more and more social proof which becomes self reinforcing. Questions about applying influence? Post a comment.