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How To More Effectively Influence People Online

Science of Persuasion


Model Of Influence

If you watch the video above, you’ll see what has become a model for influence from Robert Cialdini, which includes these factors:

  • Reciprocity
  • Scarcity
  • Authority
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Consensus

They are all super relevant in the psychology of influence in general, and I’ve discovered that as the world goes more digital, the way (or should I say, the places) in which we influence need consideration too.

The key factor we need to look before we get going is this…

How will you get someone’s attention ‘enough’ in order to have a chance to influence them?



You can engage someone when they are paying attention, and the more interested in what you are saying, the more ‘engaged they are’ in the moment, the more you can…



This happens once people have engaged themselves ‘enough’ over time.

When you make new friends, you can watch the process happen:
You meet, you learn each other’s names, you understand what they do for work, you begin to find out about their spouse, hobbies, opinions etc.

In other words, a relationship forms when people…



You relate when you don’t disconnect but step into the area of conversation (for instance) and see that you agree with what is being said, or at least can understand that point of view.

You don’t actually know what is going on inside someone’s head, so you have to look at what is being displayed in front of you. Sure, subtle cues are going to help in the real world, but in the digital space things are much less analogue, but often more hidden behind a veil of technology.

Your job as a Digital Navigator (threw that in, just for Google Keyword fun) is to understand the mechanisms by which you can gain people’s attention enough in order for you to be able to engage them.

As such, here are a few questions for your consideration when approaching, or continuing to build a relationship with someone online.


Attention – Question To Consider

Does the person run their own social media accounts?

If they don’t they are unlikely to see your efforts to build a relationship.

Do they open their own email?

Have you got the best email address for them? (personal/business)

What is the nature of relationship you already have with this person?

Historical context will determine both how you approach the person as well as what you say.

What is their preferred communication channel?

Mine happens to be telephone, followed by video call.
(Why? I spent 5 years on the phone selling NLP courses before moving into consulting and writing sales type scripts for large financial institutions; and years in video calls – I’ve been on Skype from 1998).

What is the outcome you are seeking from this interaction?

It is great to ‘go with it’ when that is appropriate, but if you have some degree of open intent it will help you guide the conversation.

What metrics will you be using to measure your success?

If you are talking to your teenage kids it may relate to a change in language or a display of behaviour; if you are measuring conversion rates from an email letter, it may well be in percentage terms, and revenue generated.

Is the person paying attention when you are communicating with them?

People can easily be distracted and drawn into something else. Less than full attention will affect whether the influence you are having moves them to the next step.


Relate, Connect and Engage Questions

I am aware this may be a geeky approach to communication but here we go…

How can you break your intended outcome you are seeking into 5-7 stages toward getting it?

If you think ‘it worked, or it didn’t work’ then you are restricted in which parts of your communication you should consider working on the most.

How can you then optimize your communication approach in order to increase the likelihood of a conversion (based on whatever you consider that to be)?

This may be strange language outside of marketing circles, but it is a strong perspective that equally applies to any area of life and work, if you are having intent to do so.

How effectively do you understand their language?

Very often people will say whether someone ‘speaks their language’? But that can be a superficial trick as well. (Darn it those NLP optimizers…oh, hold on.) I digress.

What is the emotional response that is created in the person as you are seeking/posting/texting etc?


Consider all the elements of imagery, text, voice and video are you using to convey your messages. Could you make it a ‘richer’ experience?


To build a deeper connection with someone you actually need to consider…

“Am I bullsh*tting them in any way?”

If they know a subject inside and out, you can tell very quickly whether someone is ‘not feeling the words’ (i.e. they have not embodied them through experience or belief or through a cognitive leap), or if they are trying to spin a situation.

Authenticity is what will sustain a relationship over years. Afterall, as the village grows, we simply tend to gain more neighbours, especially when the attention is with you and the party is in your backyard.

Do you have authority enough to justify people’s attention? 

If people don’t respect your authority (h/t Cartman) then everything you say can be held within a frame of reference that is not desirable when you outcome is about influencing.

If people are battling their internal chatter, overlaid with the internal vision output from a load of neurons firing as they are suppressing saying the words…bullshit, then the conversation you have will not be optimal. Same thing when they receive ‘that email’, or ‘that text’, call etc. If you trigger an internal response that lacks openness, you have an uphill struggle from there.

Do you know who you are interacting with?

Short version, you can get bamboozled online.

And I know you think you’ve just met the love of your life, but unless you’ve met in real life you may still be ‘conned’, one way or another.

Actually, it may be considerably more subtle than that – in communities you’ll find people may be connecting, hanging out, and analysis of every.word.that.is.written. Or not. It all depends if they care enough about what is being said.


And finally, once you’ve finalized that stage of interactions:

How could you approach the situation differently next time?

This is often considered the Learning Question in NLP, and one that will allow you to reflect and adjust course in future.

Needless to say, but I will, strong emotional states have great value when it comes to the right people relating to you; ones that are less than optimal tend to lead to, well, poorer performance.

In one way, human interactions are one of the least officially tested areas of existence. You may well compete in chess or in sports, but not on who doesn’t lose their rag when it is 2am in the morning and the [insert pet peeve here] doesn’t stop.


What Next?

As you begin to gather speed in your interactions in a digital space.

Well, you need some operating principles. And that is, you look to have as many quality mentors in your life that you can squeeze in, which is where we will go with the next blog.


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