Do you remember that moment in the Matrix when Neo sees the virtual world for what it really is, the green cryptic code cascading down everything?

You get a glimpse into what the world is like from his perspective. And that’s what I hope to do with today’s article; I’m going to give you a glimpse into the mind of a master influencer.

How do they think? What are they looking for? How do they build their strategies?

After interviewing everyone from CIA field operatives to hostage negotiators, to exceptional trial attorneys (and many other fascinating communication badasses), I discovered that when they need to use their influential powers, they ask themselves a series of questions.

The answers to these questions help influencers discover exactly how to persuade someone else.

So, I’d like to share a few of my favorite influential-intel-gathering questions that can be used at any time, in any situation.

These questions are an important part of your influential process because these will guide you during the critical first stage of influence: to observe.

To have the smoothest influential conversation, you always want to start with the foundational question, “What do I need to know about this person?” Meaning, what specific influential triggers can you discover in the person you want to influence — aka your influence partner.

Below is a list of questions that will help you find those exact triggers.

Please keep in mind that these questions are in no particular order. The influential process is an organic one.

And, you likely won’t need to find the answers to all of these questions when you’re persuading someone. Knowing the answers to just a few of these will set you up for success.

Alright. Let’s dive in.



Back in the “olden” days of sales seminars, every flashy suited sales expert loved to say the phrase, “Every single one of your prospects tunes into one radio station every day. And that station is WII FM. Also known as, “What’s In It For Me” radio.”

(For you millennials out there, a radio is a device that would find invisible waves in the air and …. You know what, forget it. Back to the story.)

So, if everyone’s base question is “What’s in it for me?” then that means that influencers are constantly asking themselves,

“What’s in it for THEM?”

Sure, you want something from your influence partner. But in order for you to get what you want, you must figure out what’s in it for them.

How will this make them feel better? How will this solve their problems? What do they get out of the exchange?

How will they…

  • Get more money
  • Increase their free time
  • Have more energy
  • Hear fewer complaints from co-workers or significant other
  • Elevate their status
  • Get recognition from someone they care about
  • Advance their career
  • Live with less stress
  • Attain more power and control
  • Have more fulfilling relationships
  • Enjoy their work more

The list can go on and on.

“What’s in it for them?” is, by far, the number 1 question that is on every influencer’s mind.



Yeah, I know. “Who is The Neck?” is a weird question, but I promise it’ll make sense in a second.

One of my favorite movies is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If they used the word Italian instead of Greek in the title, it could have been a documentary about my family. The similarities were painfully hysterical.

In that film, the main character Toula is getting relationship advice from her Greek mother. Her mother says, “Let me tell you something Toula; the man is the head, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants.”

Every decision maker has someone who is their Neck.

There is always at least one person able to turn the head of the decision maker and point them in a certain direction.

This person could be a best friend, a co-worker, a family member, a significant other, … anyone. But there is always 

It’s helpful to find out who your influence partner’s Neck is because it gives you more options as an influencer.

Meaning, The Neck can make your progress so much easier!

There are times when you might not have access to the person you want to influence, but you are connected and in rapport with The Neck. Then, they can do the influencing for you! Or you and The Neck can team up and approach the decision maker together.

The Neck can make or break your influence efforts, so you always want to know who The Neck is and make sure that they are on your side.






We all know that building rapport is an important part of successful influence. One of the fastest ways to build rapport is finding similarities and shared interests. Studies show that even small connection points greatly increase your likability.

Think about it. When you meet someone from your hometown, you light up at the coincidental connection. The two of you will probably talk about people you know, places you remember, and events that happened there. It is an instant rapport builder.

The same is true about shared interests. If you both like to golf, you might talk about your favorite players, or your favorite courses, and possibly share a few tips on how to improve your swing.

Connections, no matter how small, pay big dividends in your influence efforts.

*Myth Buster:

You don’t have to share the same interests as your mark in order to create rapport. While it is an easier path to connection, it doesn’t mean you are S.O.L. if your mark is an avid golfer and you don’t see the merit behind hitting a small white ball all over highly manicured grounds. (And who can blame you?)

If you don’t know much about their interests, that’s ok. You still can still create a connection!

The objective isn’t for you to talk about how much you like something; it’s to get them to talk about how much they like something.

As they speak about their love of horse riding, mountain biking, or poker, they still feel in rapport with you. Just by having the opportunity to express their joy, they then feel connected to you.

The key here is to be interested in what enjoy.

Be curious. Inquire about their interest. Delve into the specifics and the reasons why they enjoy it. You’ll be amazed at how asking about one innocuous detail can lead into a monologue about the hidden beauty behind coin collecting…or whatever.

And, be sure to perk up your ears when they go into a monologue. While they speak, you will pick up valuable influential intelligence that you can utilize at a later date.

The Wrap Up

The next time you’re hoping to influence someone, remember that step one is observation.

This is how you will learn what is important to them and how they are going to benefit from whatever it is you’re offering.

From there, you can position yourself and your value to appeal to their interests and benefits.

As you ask yourself these questions, it’s all about curiosity towards and connection with your mark. The goal is to understand them better, so you can serve them better.

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