Our new Millennium had just begun when Robert B. Cialdini published his “6 Principles of Persuasion”, providing powerful insight into face-to-face business relationships. Yet why should CEO’s refrain from applying this effective knowledge to their 24/7 online presence. After all, it’s relationships building regardless online or offline. And as a thought leader, you will sure be more effective in your interact with your audience with Cialdini’s principles of persuasion.
Let’s us take the 20-60-20 division of people around you. If 20% will never agree with you, 20% has already bought into the same idea you hold while the remaining 60% is what you should work on to get them over to your side, then your effort of persuasion should focus on them. However, don’t get into the illusion that you can change people’s mind. A detailed look into Cialdini’s 6 Principles tells us they’re more a filter to sort out those that you will not have an appeal to and a magnet to attract those that have values that are aligned with yours.
So how can you, as CEO and a thought leader, successfully execute these 6 principles to attract like-minded people, to build and nurture a community so they can join you in achieving common goals?
Cialdini’s 1st Principal Of Persuasion – “Reciprocity”
You might think that a reciprocal arrangement is best summed up by the phrase “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” – with the idea that everyone benefits from helping each other to do something that, perhaps, they cannot do for themselves. However, what is striking about what Cialdini did is that he turned it around to say “I’ll scratch your back and you’ll scratch mine”. The small difference that makes a huge difference is all about being the first mover – not knowing if you will, and what you will, get in return. This requires both vision (to see the need before being asked) and courage (to face the fear of rejection or being taken advantage of).
Why is reciprocity important?
Reciprocity is based on the assumption that it’s human nature to repay kindness – just imagine a person bought a morning coffee for the next person in line at a kiosk and thus created a chain of pay-it-forward kindness that lasted until dinner-time! This principle is something that Richard Branson seems to understand well as a CEO – recently he announced that his 170 staff were now free to take as much vacation as they liked (as long as the business didn’t suffer) and they didn’t have to ask his permission – this has caused a huge debate and some controversy in business circles. Although his motives have been questioned by some, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to take his offer at face value. His expectation is that the trust he is showing in his people will be repaid by them not abusing that new freedom and also by being even more productive than they were before.
Of course, actions like these might not always work out the way you intend, but even if nothing comes back from your good deed, at least the act itself will give you good energy and make you feel good about yourself. Don’t underestimate the significance of that for a second – after all, if you don’t like who you are, why should anybody else?
To be a successful persuader, your mantra needs to be simple: Give, give and give some more. As a CEO, there are lots of things that you can give to your people, and it certainly doesn’t have to have a monetary value. In fact, as a thought leader, your best gift is awareness, attention and acknowledgement. Whatever you give, there is a very strong probability that you’ll be surprised by what you’ll get in return.
If you’re like that offline, how can that not be reflected online?
Why not take a few minutes to consider your online persona and how likeable it is? What are you going to do to put your best foot forward in the future?