How To Use Leverage (the right way)
“Until you realize how easily it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else’s game.” ― Evita Ochel
She was upset & rightfully so. How could this person she had never met, or spoken to, try to exploit her relationships for their own personal gain AND think she wasn’t going to find out? It was shameless, but sadly not shocking.
In this era of social media influencing, everyone is trying to leverage whatever they can to get ahead. Yet, whether due to a lack of business education or mentorship from those with experience, many have made misguided attempts to use leverage. Unfortunately, the result is often the opposite of what they hoped, as they not only fail to advance themselves but also gain a tarnished reputation.
When you google the word leverage you get two very different definitions. The first is “to use (something) to its maximum advantage.”
The second is “to use for gain: EXPLOIT.” Admittedly if you only saw the second definition you may be inclined to think that leverage is supposed to be exploitative. This conclusion would set you up for a rude awakening.
While leverage is about using something to its maximum advantage, there are elements of ethics, integrity & authenticity that should govern your behavior.
How To Use Leverage Like A Boss
When used correctly Leverage can be an extremely powerful tool. I know you want to get ahead without risking your reputation or your integrity.
These 6 dos & don’ts should help to ensure you are leveraging the right things in the right way.
1. DON’T Try to use other people’s relationships as leverage.
Just because you follow someone on social media doesn’t mean you know them. Dropping the name of someone you don’t know in an effort to get someone else to let you into their circle is a HUGE DON’T. This kind of faux pas will get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. You never want to be the person that prompts public service announcements like the one Audria Richmond had to make after someone she didn’t know tried to leverage her name to get new business. Audria very eloquently stated “Let’s be clear, If I have never worked with you, you don’t have a right to use my name to get business…Stop trying to be cool with me to infiltrate my network to get clients.” Don’t sacrifice your integrity for the sake of leverage.
2. DO establish authentic relationships with people whose vision you believe in & who believe in your vision. These relationships will leverage themselves.
Social Media has created a bridge to people you may have never encountered otherwise. As a result, it is easier than ever to make an initial connection. However, a relationship can only develop from genuine interpersonal contact. If possible establishing contact in person in the real world would be best.
However, if you are able to create meaningful and authentic exchanges online that’s good too. The more you are able to connect with someone around their vision, the more open they are to hearing about yours. Through these interactions, they will grow to know, like & trust you organically. As a result, they will become apart of your tribe.
“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you” ― Rasheed Ogunlaru
Once you have established a genuine relationship with someone they become a resource, who will more than likely want to leverage themselves to help you. “No one can help you if no one knows what you want to accomplish. …when you include others in your vision by sharing it with them, they become invested and, consequently, want to help you along your journey.” They will become so invested that they become one of your scouts — someone who is on the lookout for opportunities that would benefit you AND will bring them to your attention.
3. Don’t try to leverage projects or engagements you haven’t yet secured or completed
Talk is Cheap. There are a million people with a million and one ideas on this planet. People start new projects every day, but what distinguishes you is your ability to finish. It is easy to talk a great game, but you have to be able to back it up. Trying to leverage projects or engagements that are still materializing will only lead to more questions later on. Any traction gained can be easily lost when they learn that the opportunity you were talking up never came to be.
4. Do Leverage any & everything you have already done that is relevant to the opportunity at hand.
Once you have determined that an opportunity is worth pursuing its is completely reasonable to use everything you have already done to position yourself to win. You have done a lot already, and it is worth sharing. Make sure that what you are sharing is related to the opportunity. If you are trying to get featured in a publication speak about other publications that have featured you.
If you are trying to get a new client, share the success stories of other clients you have worked with. If you are looking to get promoted, make sure you are participating in your job in a way that gets you noticed. All the things you have already done have an unquantifiable value, and the benefit of sharing them can be greater than you imagined. Allow your genuine accomplishments and authentic approach to set you apart from the crowd.