3 Ways to Boost Your Influence Without Authority

“This is a relationship culture, but it’s hard to break in.”

“As a Talent Development professional, people in other parts of the business don’t really think of me as a partner. Our relationships are merely transactional.”

“If you don’t have the title, influence is hard to come by in this environment.”

These are some of the comments I hear from professionals all the time. Like it or not, your network of relationships has a lot to do with whether or not you have influence. 

And because we’ve been forced to nurture our relationships at a distance because of the pandemic – it takes more work than ever before to build influence with people you don’t necessarily see every day or have authority over. 

In today’s increasingly confounding workplaces, you need to be honest and ask yourself, “Am I nurturing relationships in a way that builds credible influence?”

Relationships are an important part of every facet of our lives. They are just as important at work as they are at home.  The need for relationships is human nature. In fact, the need for the sense of belonging and connectedness is one of our fundamental needs – the third level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and a key driver of engagement, according to Gallup’s research.  According to Maslow, we innately long for a sense of belonging and acceptance among our social groups.

That sense of belonging has been sorely tested over the last few years. And many of us don’t feel that connection at all. When we talk of the “great resignation”, it’s as much about us not being connected as anything else. 

When we don’t have relationships at work, our only connection to an organization is a paycheck. And that’s a tenuous connection. 

How to Boost Your Relationship Quality & Influence

The quality of your relationships is important, whether you’re in a position of authority or not.  Relationship quality refers to both the people you are strategically connected to and the relationships you build with them. 3 Ways to Boost Your Influence Without Authority.

If you want to build influence, you need to work on your professional relationships. Otherwise, you’re just another name on an org chart or on a list of LinkedIn connections.

Relationships go through a cycle of familiarity, likability, respect, and trust.  To get to the point of trust, and deeper influence, requires adding value to the relationship. This is what I call building Social Capital. If you just ‘take’ from relationships, you’ll fail to earn the respect and trust of others. You’ll lose influence.

So, what can you do?

How Social Capital Works & How to Grow It

  1. Take the lead

To grow a relationship, it starts with you. Realize that each party is 100% responsible for nurturing that relationship (not “I’ll meet you half-way.”)

Let’s flip the lens here for a moment. Think about the people who influence you most.  They are the people who have invested in building a relationship with you. Those relationships have the greatest social capital. You’ve built a relationship of mutual trust by first being trustworthy to earn each other’s trust. Social capital comes from putting Intentional Reach (a career strategy from my FuelForward book) into practice by proactively investing in making genuine human connections with others. 

  1. Be a Help, not a Hindrance

Add value in the relationship by being helpful, sharing ideas and resources. One of the problems for Talent Development professionals is that you often stay in your box; people see you as a separate support function and not part of the team. People want to associate with you when you share common values and interests. They’re drawn to you when you have a reputation of high integrity and character. People value and come to you for your opinion. They care about what you have to say because you genuinely care about them, and what they’re trying to accomplish, in turn. They are willing to reach out to others on your behalf. You reach out to others on their behalf… you are a connector. 

  1. Be Curious

Ask people how you may be a resource for them. Take time to learn about the challenges they’re dealing with and the outcomes they’re trying to achieve. By connecting what would be helpful for them with what you can offer, you add greater value and can deepen social capital.

Watch Your Influence Grow

Social capital develops as you invest in growing mutual self-less professional relationships built on a foundation of empathy, genuine interest, respect, and trust 3 Ways to Boost Your Influence Without Authority. Social capital grows from these types of experiences others have with you over time.

The Social Capital says “We have something in the social bank account.” As your social capital grows, your influence grows. Start with these three steps and you’ll soon see the results.

To learn more about how to build your influence, check out Vivian’s book, Influence in Talent Development at the TD store.


She’s a woman on a mission, prepped and ready to help you create resilient leaders and a workplace that is poised to succeed. Having weathered her fair share of corporate and career crises of all sizes, Vivian Blade MBA, MBB, PMP, is a global leadership expert and thought leader who equips leaders with the resilience that inspires teams to recover quickly in the face of ongoing disruption and thrive in spite of insurmountable odds.

Vivian empowers leaders and organizations as a frequent keynote speaker for association conferences and in delivering transformative leadership development programs, executive coaching and consulting for corporations.

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2023 Vivian Blade