There’s no denying we’ve entered a new age of influence. You’ve only got to take a passing glimpse at social media. For the first time in history, we’re more interested in following people than brands. We once listened to L’Oréal, now we listen to Taylor Swift. We once followed Nike, now we follow Ronaldo. We once took our cue from Sony, now we buy the latest headphones from Dr Dre.
When I first started out as an enthusiastic marketing executive twenty years ago, it was all about having a catchy tagline and preferably a large media budget. Now all eyes are on the person or brand that owns the conversation, shares their point of view, tracks the horizon for trends and translates them for their followers. Influence is now defined as the ability to say “look over there” and have people engaged enough to look – a compelling brand has now become what they look at.
This has created the rise of a new prerequisite for organisational success – Attractorship. Different to leadership in that it’s measured by your external authority or influence in a chosen market place – as well as internally within your organisation.
Sound more like a ‘nice to have’ than a necessity?
Take the example of two Account Managers – both pursuing the same client. Both are great at their job, both well respected and both willing to go the extra mile. However, Account Manager ‘A’ has been diligently raising her profile within the industry by publishing relevant and useful content. Which the client has been quietly following. She’s also been tracking a few trends in other industries and has great ideas about how to maximise them – which she recently shared in a keynote at an industry event.
When the client is ready to move, who do you think they will approach?
The truth is that the brand or individual seen as the authority in the marketplace will always get the first shot at opportunities. The same applies to being the company of choice for investment, top class talent and hard to obtain media invitations.
So how do you succeed in the age of Attractorship? Stepping out from behind the brand and owning your space is a pretty uncomfortable place for many leaders. In my experience working with thought leaders and influencers across the globe, these are the three primary steps:
FIND YOUR VOICE
You need to find a voice not just authentic to who you are, but that resonates with the people you’re trying to attract. Often that means elevating out of the technical aspects of what you do – and instead focusing on the overlap between your experience and the needs of your target market. Perhaps you’re the leader in helping young families plan their financial future; or you own the space of minimising risk in the insurance industry; or you’re the leading voice in a special but little known variety of wine.
The key is to step out of what you might think is important – and step into the challenges, opportunities and passions of your target market. What trends might they be interested in? What social currencies do they care about? In what areas do they currently struggle? How can you contribute or connect the dots in a way that makes you the ‘go to’ resource in that space?
OWN YOUR VOICE
Owning your voice means investing in your ability to ‘captivate’ – which starts with identifying your current weaknesses. It could be you feel insecure about your writing skills, or your ability to stand up and structure a compelling presentation, or present an idea in a way that intrigues your target market enough to commit to action. Remember that a weakness doesn’t mean a roadblock. A lack of writing skills could instead mean you focus on a video blog, or outsource to a skilled copywriter, or work internally as a team to pool your ideas into an industry whitepaper.
A vital part of this new age of Attractorship is that we now also care a lot less about perfect – we’re more interested in an authentic insight into your world. What problems are you solving? What trend have you noticed where I could benefit? The one thing you can’t outsource is your experience and passion – so take off your perfectionist hat just for now and focus instead on making a genuine contribution.
AMPLIFY YOUR VOICE
Amplifying your voice involves picking and choosing ‘power platforms’ – platforms that work with your style and where you can commit to consistency. A no brainer here is obviously some form of social media platform. What’s most important is that it’s a space that already owns the eyes and ears of your target audience. Not sure where that is? Try asking a few people in your network where you already have close relationships. A smart way to amplify can also be collaborating with someone that already has the trust and respect of the people you want to reach. You might be a guest on their podcast, you could write a thought piece or do some research together, or collaborate on an event which brings your networks together.
Remember your focus here is to engage a community – not collect contacts. Too often we can fall into the trap of measuring success by the number of connections we have on Linkedin – a better indication would be if you sent any one of those contacts an email, how many would care enough to respond? What you want is a small collection of the right people absolutely engaged in your ideas.
On a final note, in order to master Attractorship you will need to commit to being seen. And that’s probably the hardest part of all. You have to be open to having a voice and that means accepting the risk that people may not like wat you have to say. That’s part of the journey – not to mention one of the most powerful personal development decisions I know. However – compared with the risk of staying small and letting somebody else own your space – it’s a small price to pay.
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.