You can’t have an intelligent conversation with your peers and clients if you’re stumped when faced with everyday topics such as the election, taxes, budget deficits, interest rates, markets, unemployment, economic instability in China and the meaning of all these things to the average citizen. You don’t need to be an expert on these topics, but you do need a basic understanding of them.
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Influence is about shaping opinion, and embarrassing holes in everyday knowledge -- the kind that force you to awkwardly steer conversations into friendlier waters -- can significantly dampen your 360-degree influencing efforts. To fill these gaps, set aside a particular time each day to learn what’s in the news. Make it a daily habit. It will require no more than 20 minutes.
Test your knowledge and wit by engaging friends and colleagues in the salient topics of the day and see how far you get and whether you’re able to make a well-informed point that you can back up. It’s a low-risk strategy that allows you to gather feedback in real time with the opportunity to fill gaps just as quickly, with hundreds of news sources just a few clicks away on your smartphone.
Build your knowledge incrementally and notice how others will start coming to you for information, which is, after all, a major source of influence.