7 Tips To Get Supporters For Your New Idea
Acing the social and psychological aspects of influence
— Read time: 4 minutes —
Lots of people have great ideas, but few can turn them into reality.
For you, this is a chance to stand out.
You can be different from those who fumble when there is no formal process. You can be more effective than those who create dense business plans on their own, without early involvement of collaborators.
By learning to garner support for your idea, and move it from idea to implementation, you stand out as a someone who gets things done.
How to get supporters for your new idea
1. Start with “why”
Too often, we bring solution ideas without being crisp on the “why.”
What is the problem or the opportunity? Who does it affect? How severe is it?
And how does solving the problem or grasping the opportunity help the broader company goals? Will it increase customer retention? Will it help you and your colleagues be more efficient?
2. Figure out whose support you need
Who are decision makers? Who holds veto power? And who would throw a tantrum later on if they’re not involved upfront?
Map it out. Then involve those people.
3. Involve your colleagues early
Don’t wait until you have a polished pitch deck.
They’d (rightfully) be skeptical of an idea being pushed from the side.
Instead: Float the idea by your colleagues early on. Say that you’ve noticed an opportunity. Ask them what they think of it.
This has three benefits:
(i) Their perspectives will improve the idea
(ii) You give them more ownership of the idea, helping them be the hero in their own journey
(iii) Getting early support on small items increases the chance of getting support down the road, because people tend to act consistent with their previous actions
4. Ask: What’s important to your colleagues?
Your colleagues might not share your priorities.
How can you help them reach their goals?
Emphasize the aspects of your idea which helps them accomplish their priorities. Will your idea make their work easier? Will they get credit?
And proactively address their concerns. Your manager, for example, might wonder whether your new idea will distract from your other work.
5. Get clear on the upside and the cost
If your colleagues seem open-minded in your first conversations about the opportunity, you’re ready to get into more details.
Here’s what decision-makers want to know:
How do you measure success? And what specific outcome would make pursuit of the idea successful? This clarifies the value of your idea. It also gives leadership a way to hold you accountable.
Conversely, what does it cost? Which resources are needed and how much time would it take?
6. Weave in tactics from psychology
As is clear by now, garnering support relies on social and psychological insight.
Throughout your support-building exercise, see if Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles from his book Influence can help:
Reciprocity. If you help your colleagues in some way, they’re more inclined to help you.
Commitment & consistency. We tend to act consistent with previous behaviors. That’s why it’s helpful to involve colleagues early and get micro-commitments along the way.
Social proof. “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it,” writes Cialdini. Can you get some colleagues to speak up in favor of your idea, to inspire others to support it too?
Liking. Your colleagues are more inclined to support your idea if they like you as a person.
Authority. We listen more to authority than others. Can you get support of someone more senior than you for the idea?
Scarcity. “Opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited,” writes Cialdini. Can you make the case that now is a unique time to pursue your idea?
7. Show enthusiasm throughout
I forgot this tip recently when pitching myself in job interviews. I was so focused on saying the right thing, and not saying the wrong thing, that I appeared apathetic toward the job…
And why would others be excited, if you’re not?
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