Influencer or Influenced?
Nobody that I know enjoys languishing in obscurity in their profession. Unless you’re on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list, why would you?
Now here’s your firsts question answered... “Why is Kyle Condon - a forensic business crime investigator and consulting specialist - talking to me about the importance of being a influencer?”
The answer my friend (is not blowing in the wind) it’s...
Because if you are receiving my emails and newsletters, then I see it as my duty and responsibility to make bloody sure I provide you with information and insight into business lessons and experiences that have helped me. Apart from that, it provides you with a fancy topic bomb to drop at your next company chin wag… kind of like...
“Hey boss do you consider yourself a influencer, if so why?”
I guarantee you the boss will retort with something like; “Well Chris, interesting question, let me get back to you on that, I must just go take a leak”, as he quickly adjusts his tie (and face mask) and makes for the bathroom quicker than Jacob Zuma gets a ticket to Cuba.
So what is an influencer and why is it so important for us to strive to achieve this status ?
In short, an influencer is a person who has garnered enough respect, audience, and authority on a particular subject, brand or career that he/she is (by this virtue alone) able to influence others’ purchasing decisions. This is down to his/her reputation as an expert amongst his audience.
To be able to do this is akin to having a business superhero power.
An example would be like hearing Warren Buffet at a golf game mention a new stock his buying... boom you’re buying that stock too. Why? Because the most respected influencer in the investment game said so.
Let me bring it down a notch… Your son is heading to high school next year and you’re pondering what school to send him to. You read an interesting article about schools and the current state of education, but then an article catches your eye. It’s about a man by the name of Dale Jackson, who happens to be the headmaster of Jeppe High School for Boys. Not only does the article refer to how Mr Jackson has placed Jeppe back into the elite boys school category, but he has also been at the forefront of some pretty damn impressive initiatives during the Covid-19 lockdown. Holding virtual assemblies and ensuring that all students attend online, but in uniform. He speaks as though 1 000 boys are standing rank and file in front of him. His prefects perform their required talks, just as they would if school was in session.
This happens weeks before other schools follow suit… and copy.
Your mind is made up; your son is going to Jeppe Boys High. Why? Because of the influencing power of Dale Jackson directly at play. He made your choice very easy, yet Mr Jackson probably doesn’t consider himself a influencer - chances are he doesn’t even know it. But (and here’s the cracker), if he were to embrace this power bestowed upon him - and rightly so - he could make his brand 10 times more sought after. He could change the way schooling works if he chose to. Shit, he could run for Minister of Education. All because, like Mr Buffet, Tiger Woods, Sigmund Freud and Michael Jordan, Mr Jackson has begun his road to influencer status.
As a professional investigator, a large portion of my job is to find answers on a diverse range of issues. This is especially significant when I’m running a complex company Due Diligence investigation. My clients want answers that only deep dive investigation techniques will provide. The first port of call for my investigation team will always be to identify the influencers in a particular sector or on the subject matter. We will then very carefully obtain any useful insight and intelligence from this source and our investigation moves forward from here.
As a result of doing this for over 27 years, many of my own staff have garnered the reputation as investigation industry influencers. Meaning more business comes our way because we have an audience that trusts, believes in and acknowledges our position in the investigation and fraud prevention sector. Passion guided this rise to influencer status, but providing reliable information helped entrenched it.
So how do you become an influencer?
Your road trip to moving from being a really knowledgeable and experienced practitioner (in your field) to becoming the influencer and thought leader in your field begins by recognising a knowledge gap. This gap needs to be filled by someone... so, why not you?
You must start to fill the gap with insight, initiatives and presence garnered through reading, studying and boots on the ground experience. Your audience starts small, but like the proverbial snowball effect, it grows. When you have something to say that people want to hear, your significance in the world grows.
When Dale Jackson implemented virtual assemblies, and promoted his school through unwavering passion, his influence grew. Right now parents are talking about the Headmaster at Jeppe Boys. Does this mean that all other very competent and respected Headmasters of top schools have become irrelevant? No, obviously not. But it does mean Dale Jackson, much like Warren Buffet, has positioned himself as a person of significant influence. What Dale chooses to do with that is entirely up to him and, as for Mr Buffet, we all know how it worked out for him.
It’s not easy!
Take your own industry, or even just your own company and give some thought to who the influencer in your environment is. Another way is to ask who is the thought leader, the guru? DON’T be put off if you can’t think of one, that’s the norm. There are many experts, but very few thought leaders.
My own experience garnered from attending crime investigation and fraud symposiums around the world has taught me that there are brilliant minds and experts in all fields. However, there are very few whose own colleagues bestow the title “Influencer” on them.
So what do influencers actually do?
Well at the beginning they work in the industry (any industry), then they fall in love with what they do. As a result, they open themselves up to learn more. They read and consume as much as they can about the successes, failures negatives and positives of their industry. They talk to people, they listen and they constantly see how they can improve the customer or business experience.
Then consciously (or sometimes inadvertently) they begin to create noise. Not cluttered noise, but noise that makes people take notice - not for their own profit but for the good and benefit of their industry or sector. Their intention is to educate others about things those others haven’t yet seen or tried. They share their big ideas on platforms, and their audience grows. Those audiences eventually become your evangelists of big ideas, they spread your word, your thoughts. And when that happens… you become the thought leader, the influencer!
I hope that my post has been able to light a little flame inside you. I love the idea that only influencers can create meaningful change. I firmly believe that every industry or sector needs a influencer. Every company needs a thought leader... why can it not be you?
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