You may not have the reach of a Tom Joyner and, you may not be able to provide a scholarship to Rachel Jeantel as he so generously did. But, in our own way, we can all have influence and make a difference.

Influence is a powerful responsibility. Everyone has influence on different levels. The key is to:

1. Understand your position of influence (where are you at this point in your life).

2. Use your influence (who listens to you and what do you tell them).

3. Expand your influence (reaching more people).
Influence can be used for positive or negative – to enhance or to destroy lives. How you utilize your influence is up to you, but be assured you have more power than you realize.

The secret weapon of influence is to approach from a position of strength. You can only do that if you understand what you possess. What do you have or have access to that others want or need? It can be money, access to powerful people, creative ideas, technical skills or insights about your community, social media outlets and, of course, your vote.

If you get involved politically by campaigning, gathering a group of individuals to engage and vote, then your influence could literally change the course of a nation.
Social Media has tapped into anyone’s ability to influence millions with a few words and with the click of a button.On Twitter alone, more than 1 million posts about the verdict went up in the 12 hours after it was announced Saturday night.

One woman’s activism on Twitter and a Change.org campaign put Juror B37‘s book deal to a screeching halt.

Obviously, the more friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and hits on your website that you have, the more potential impact you will have. The question is once you get it, how are you going to use your influence?

Social media has become the great equalizer. You don’t have to be a big star, leader or media personality in order to get your message out and tap into your influence.
But you must start by focusing on what you can do, as opposed to focusing on how powerless you may feel.

Using Your Influence
When you write, speak or simply live your life; who is watching you, mimicking you, looking for direction from you? How does what you do or say impact their lives in a positive or negative manner?

Politics is the ultimate strategic game because decisions made by elected officials effect the direction of our lives and direction of our world. Let’s be very clear, there is a direct connection between how we engage in everyday life and how those same principles can apply in the world of politics. The question is how does it affect you, and how can you affect it? A good start is to vote. Now that’s “owning your influence” in a way that really counts. We influence our legislators when we pull the lever or push the button and vote on Election Day. And in case you’ve got a bitter taste in your mouth and wonder why you should care, let’s review.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “politics” as policies or affairs of a government. Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) describe politics this way, “politics is about who gets what, how much, when, where, and how? When you consider the dynamics in our country in terms of who has what, and who’s without, do you consider politics as a factor? If not, you should.”

Even if you don’t care about politics, you care about what happens in your life as a result of policies and politics such as: healthcare, college tuition, global warming, job creation and the economy. And if you don’t care, who will?

A person or group is only able to capitalize on their influence if they know what they want, how to ask for what they want and how to use their influence to get it. For instance, if you’re one of those women who can organize a trip and leverage the amount of people in your group to negotiate a good price for the travel and hotel fares, then you already understand this concept. It’s all about the numbers and we’ve got them.

That, my friend, is the power of effective organizing, lobbying and politicking.

With that said, and with all of your concerns in mind, what group do you belong to that is lobbying on your behalf? What politicians understand and respect that you and your group have issues which must be addressed?

Do you realize that all elected officials are beholden to the public? After all, they hold public office. Remember, they were voters before they became politicians. They politicked their passion into a career, which you now pay for as a taxpayer. If you so choose, you have that same capability. Bottom line, you need to be in touch with and influence those who are in a position to impact your life.

Do it Again
Finally, in order to really be an effective influencer or game changer, you must make your presence felt more than once. Once will never be enough. Repetition, practice and tenacity make people successful far more than talent does. Here are some basic things that you need to do over and over again in order to influence change personally, politically and professionally:

•    Say “I love you” and demonstrate love, so the people in your life can feel that love.
•    Pay your bills on time so you can have good credit and purchase what you want and need.
•    Get training so you can better your skill set.
•    Vote so you can hold your elected officials accountable.
•    Apologize when you’re wrong so you can mend broken relationships.
•    Stay relevant by being relevant. Be the one to provide the solution, the next trend and or the new hit.

The world is constantly changing, and it needs your relevance and influence. Because we live in a world that makes people feel like today you’re hot, and tomorrow you’re not, you can influence what they think by staying on top of your game.

DEYA DIRECTIVE: You have more power and influence than you realize. Your relationships, your perspective, your money and your vote all play a part in changing this world. Own your influence, and use it to make a difference.

Deya “Direct” Smith is a lead producer on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and host of Girlfriend FM & Beyond the Studio celebrity interviews. She is also the best-selling author of Touch Yourself, 30 Ways to Live, Love and Let Go (www.touchmebooks.com)! Deya is a life-style and inspirational speaker.

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