If you want the next big opportunity, how are you cultivating your social proof?

Nov 30, 2023

As human beings we like social proof.  We like being one of the tribe and can weigh heavily the opinions of those around us that are in our inner circle.


Social proof is an important part of the theory of influence.  In simple terms every time you choose a coffee shop with a long que over an empty one, or you make an online purchase of one brand over the next due to a higher number of 5 star reviews, you are being swayed by social proof.

In a leadership sense, social proof can come in many forms:

  • What people are saying about you when you are not in the room,
  • Other leaders that are willing to sponsor you, introduce you to others in their inner circle or put you forward for opportunities or promotions,
  • Industry participants willing to give you a public shout out on social media platforms (hello LinkedIn!) rather than behind the scenes,
  • Testimonials and references.


When it comes to promotions or opportunities, most leaders like to consider someone they know, like and trust.  They know you, how you go about what you do and what you deliver, they trust that you are a good decision maker and have integrity and on some level there are things they like or have in common with you.

What can be a deciding factor is your social proof.  What is the perception others have of you, and where is it coming from?  If you are not sure, or if you know you are the equivalent of the coffee shop with no que, its time to get strategic in building your social proof.


Here’s how to get started:

  • Find several mentors that are outside of your department or area of work,
  • Look to build your network at least 2 layers or steps outside of your current position, talk to the people that are where you are going to,
  • Be clear on what you want, where do you want to be in 1 to 3 years time,
  • Start talking not just about where you are now, but where you want to be, once people who make decisions know your ambition, they can start to factor you into decision making,
  • Don’t wait for opportunities to magically appear, create them. Reach out to people you follow, create time to meet face to face, join groups and have conversations with people you don’t know,
  • Take a broad view, pathways don’t always look like narrow ladders with evenly spaced rungs, they require sideways jumps, leaps, sprints and marathons, all with a 360-degree view,
  • Find your style. I used to almost dread networking, find a way of approaching and meeting people that suits your style, whether its 1 on 1, with a mutual connection, or groups.
  • Start!


When it comes to social proof hoping others see your potential, achievements and goals is not a strategy.  It is up to you to cultivate and influence your social proof.

Once you start building your social proof, it never stops, and nor should it.  Leaders who are thinking two steps ahead of where they are now, are those that always have a pathway with options.

If one door closes there is another one at the ready to knock on or open.

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