This is the second in our series How to Improve Your Influence. In our last post, we discussed assessing where you are. Today we’re going to discuss how to create strategic alliances as part of your strategy. In essence creating strategic alliances is the ability to build coalitions internally and with external organizations to achieve common goals.

handshakeThis ingredient is a component of political savvy. There is often a negative connotation with being “politically savvy”, but really, what about it is viewed so badly? After some quick research, we found a short survey to see how savvy we were. Curious? Here is the survey

If the results surprised you, you’re not alone. Political savvy gets a bad rap, but it is an essential part of creating strategic alliances. Without alliances, you cannot improve your influence. So how do you go about building alliances? The first thing you need to know is that it takes time. You can’t decide tomorrow to start building strong alliances if you haven’t laid the groundwork. However, here’s some advice for wherever you are…

  1. Always Be At Your Best. You never know who is looking at you, so always try to be the person known for being a great team player. If you have a reputation for always complaining when someone asks you to do something, you are really starting at a deficit. Those with strong alliances are known for doing whatever it takes to get things done. Those who are always at their best attract others to become one of their allies.
  1. You Are as Good As Your Word. If you are known for keeping your word, then your ability to attract quality supporters will be easier for you. If not, you’ll have to work on standing by your word. Who wants someone in their corner they can’t count on?
  1. Quid Pro Quo. If you want someone in your corner, you need to be in their corner. You have to show your value to the person with whom you are cultivating an alliance. Don’t keep tabs on what you’ve done for others. Instead, do the right thing and people will notice. They’ll be there for you when you least expect it but need it most.
  1. Treat Everyone Respectfully. This one is related to number 1. We’ve all seen people who ignore or treat people poorly who are “lower” in the organizational food chain, and it is bad business. People who have strong strategic alliances treat everyone respectfully. Consider alliances at various levels. There are those who are your peers; there are those with superiors; and then there are people who may be lower than you in the organization, but can be valuable allies. Treat them right and they’ll be in your corner throughout their career.
  1. Work on Relationships. Alliances are all about people. The advice we’ve discusses throughout this post are all relationship-based. This will be easy for those of you who love to network and collect friends wherever your go. If you are not great at establishing new relationships, start by strengthening the relationships you already have. The more you practice your interpersonal skills the easier it will be for you to grow your network.

We hope these ideas have made you think about building strategic alliances in order to improve your influence. If it’s something you want to do well, it’s something you grow and cultivate. We’d love to hear your ideas on building strategic alliances. In the meantime, take a look at someone who is known for ruthlessly creating strategic alliances. While we don’t agree with his methods, it’s fun to watch him work… Frank Underwood


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