The book is titled 'How to influence' but a better title (or perhaps subtitle) would be 'How to build coalitions if you are lobbying in government or politicking to curry favour within a large organisation'. The title implies a wider readership, but the book is significantly specific in its focus--you are the ideal person for this book if you are looking to amass support and undermine opponents. If that doesn't describe you, I would say there are better books on persuading people and building relationships.
The tone of the book feels quite daunting. The language is aimed clearly at a management audience. Strangely, however, there are little cartoons scattered throughout the book that try to make light of the topic--to me the cartoons did nothing to lift the weighty tone of the text.
I found the advice within the book quite difficult to apply. The book contains many different anecdotes and examples, which are all accompanied by snippets of advice. However, the examples don't always illustrate a clear point, and I struggled to identify what the lessons were. I'm sorry to report that I couldn't tell you what I've learned or how I might improve my influencing skills in the future.
Let me clarify first what this book is about - it is about influence :) jokes aside, what is influence? It is the art of interacting with people while pursuing your own interests. Now many people will describe this as devious behavior, but when you think about it - it's not, it's exactly the way all human beings operate in this world! Doing charity work is also pursuing your own interest - in this case, the interest is helping other people! To sum it up, all people have their own interests, which can be both good and evil from the society's point of view - but no matter what they are, we need the people around us to achieve them. To be more precise, we need to INFLUENCE them so that they would help us, support us or do something for us - often by helping them in return, so there's absolutely no "undermining opponents" (quoting another review). This book is focused on the win-win outcome. Quoting the same review, "you are the ideal person for this book if you are looking to amass support" - yes indeed you are, since if you do not need to amass at least some support, you're probably dead! Everyone needs support, from managers who need their seniors to approve their budget to football coaches who also need the support of their seniors to buy new football players.
Now back to the book - the reason why I liked it so much is that lots of the material was new, and sometimes even eye-opening to me! Borrowing credibility, the style compass, why being generous fails (and what true generosity looks like), settling arguments, five easy-to-remember E's of influential behavior (energy, excitement, enthusiasm, expertise, engagement), how to write letters and talk to CEO people and so on. I found all of them to be highly practical and very useful.
At the same time, the book didn't try to present influence as "Do A, do B, Do C, and influence hath thee". Influencing people is hardly ever a list of rules, but rather a mindframe that help you to choose your actions wisely. It didn't also fall into the infamous trap of Influence vs Persuasion - persuasion is about a one-time action which may have disastrous consequences in the future - influence, on the other hand, is about building voluntarily commitment on a long-term basis, and stayed true to the title.
this book is packed with ways to influence that range from transparent to devious. it explains how some people become influential, and some people do not. read this book if you want to get strangers at a dinner party to tell you how they lost their virginity!