3 Keys to Becoming an Industry Trend Spotter 

Whether you’re a CEO, an entrepreneur or in sales – one of the biggest challenges in any industry right now is how to rise above the noise and be seen as the authority in your space. Do this well and it changes everything. Shifting the need to chase new business, investment, media enquiries and speaking engagements – to attracting new opportunities by being the recognised ‘go to’ expert.

Through many years working with industry thought leaders, I know one of the fastest ways to achieve this is to become known as the primary trend spotter for your space.

Recently I was lucky enough to catch up with Henry Mason, CEO of London based Trend Watching. In a quiet conference room we dived into how to decode what’s next in any industry, how to tell the difference between a trend and a fad – and why most of us are looking in the wrong place. Here are the main three tools I took from our conversation on becoming the ‘go to’ trends expert in your space:

GO TO THE FRINGE

Don’t look to your own industry for trends or innovation. Instead look outside the industry at what’s happening in other sectors. Uber is the perfect example. When we finish a ride with Uber, we simply get out of the car and run, no more holding up traffic while the driver tries to swipe our credit card. Now, when we go to pay for anything, our expectations of how seamless a transaction can be have permanently shifted.

Henry defined a trend as tension + opportunity. Basically Uber has created an ‘expectation gap’ that is now both an opportunity and a threat for every other industry.

What can you learn from innovations in other industries? How might it shape the future of your own space? How can you share this with your target market to highlight opportunities and minimise threats?

EMBRACE YOUR DARK SIDE

At last count 80% of sharing happens in what’s known as ‘dark social’. Dark social describes any sharing that happens outside of social media. It basically describes finding something interesting online, such as an article or video, then emailing the link to a colleague or client with ‘I saw this and thought you’d find it interesting.’

Sound simple? This particular key to authority is hugely undervalued. Imagine if you put an hour aside every week to track the horizon for those important articles, ebooks and reports. Then shared these with current or prospective clients – along with a note as to why you thought it was relevant to their world. The value you would add, and I’m predicting your results, would take a quantum leap.

What can you do to embrace your dark side? What subjects could be valuable to your top 20-25 clients? How can you expand your radar to make sure you have your finger on the pulse?

HARNESS YOUR TRIBE

The extra time required for trend spotting can be hard to find, especially if you’re running an organisation or fast-moving enterprise. The smart trend spotters instead harness their tribe to do the heavy lifting.

The trick is to identify the smart passionate people in your network who already have their eye on the horizon. Who could you bribe with a quarterly lunch or Skype date? Can you create a group who are all interested in the future of your industry and agree to compare notes? If you can tap into enough minds, you will have all the information you need to mark your claim as the industry’s trend translator. Put that into a regular report, newsletter or event and all eyes are on you as the authority on what’s next. Better still, get the right tribe together and might even agree to share the results with their own networks as a guest contributor.

Who do you know that always has their ear to the ground? How could their experiences or ideas relate to your space? What format could you easily combine all these and share with your network?

One of the most common myths about trend spotting is that it’s a dark magic that only a few possess. The truth is, like most magical tricks, it’s simply a combination of skill and a discipline. Real trend spotters have made the decision to become well practiced at tuning into their radar, and then consistently sharing within their network.

Finally, don’t get too caught up in whether your predications may turn out true or false. Although hopefully you’ve done your research – a more compelling intention than being right – is having the courage to show up with your ideas again and again, in the hope of sparking real and important conversations in your space.

Julie Masters is a globally recognised expert in influence, authority and thought leadership. She is the CEO and Founder of Influence Nation and Founder of ODE Management – responsible for launching and managing the careers of some of the worlds most respected thought leaders. Julie is also the host of the soon to be launched weekly podcast Inside Influence. An exploration of what it takes to find and own your voice – and then use it to drive a conversation, an idea, an industry or a Nation. To subscribe check out iTunes, Spotify or juliemasters.com.

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