What does it mean to be an Influencer in the business world these days? Does it mean you’re someone like Richard Branson? Or Elon Musk? Or what about Australia’s Ita Buttrose? Or Kerry Packer?

How about YouTube gurus like Darrel Eaves, or motivational speaker and life coach Tony Robbins? You could make a pretty good case for any of them as they have all influenced the way we live and work, sometimes with very simple ideas. However, a lot of our thinking around becoming an influencer is rather old-fashioned. We still tend to imagine that these people came up with brilliant inventions: new technologies new ways of doing things and so on. And in many cases this could not be further from the truth.

What many of these influencers did was own the space.Over the past few decades influence has become more about how fast you can collaborate with others to make what it is the new norm and as leaders in that collaboration get seen as the influencer in that space.

A good example of this is Tony Robbins.and the pseudoscience Neuro-Linguistic Programming Tony did not invent NLP technology; which he became famous for, rather he embraced it and took massive actions to share it with the world and train other in how to use it to better their lives.

It’s tempting to say that that Tony Robbins just took Bandler’s and Grinder’s technology. But maybe he didn’t. Maybe Robbins was the real developer by for seeing how the technology could be shared and made accessible to millions of people around the world.

When we look at influences like Tony, I think what we see as the common thread, is their ability to improve the accessibility and usability from the mainstream  perspective. In this world of collaboration over competition I would argue that putting accessibility and usability into everyones hands is more important and therefore more influential than the invention itself.

You could, incidentally, make the same argument for the Darrel Eaves and YouTube. Whilst Darrel did not invent YouTube he did (and still does) teach millions of people how to use it as a tool to increase business and personal success.

And if we look at the internet itself, America did not invent it, yet they are the only country in the world that does not have to put their county initials after .com. They took that technology and made it available to the masses, they collaborated with when others tried to keep the technology to themselves believing that’s where the profits would lie, how wrong they were.

In terms of just inventing technologies and  ideas, the world has moved on. Talk to people who are becoming influencers or who already are influencers in the world and they are likely to be building on existing technologies, platforms and ideas and collaborating and sharing with others

Effectively, they are finding ways to build their reputations and influence using existing tools and technologies and ideas developed by others  Some of the superstar YouTubers like Darrel Eaves and Instagram influencer Huda Kattan with over 29 million followers on her makeup tutorial pageare not doing anything new, they are just doing it in a new way, and the reason they can is that they collaborate with others to get the knowledge they need and then share that knowledge helping others get what they need. It is likely that we are going to see much more of this, not less. Increasingly influencers ability to influence being built built upon their new way of thing, not to compete against each other but to WORK TOGETHER.

As we have gone through massive expansions and development in the areas of collaboration we can see that even the big companies who once had huge on-site labs, owned all the technology and patents, did everything from basic research to prototyping has now changed. Now for them to remain relevant and have influence in their market place they need to collaborate, it has been forced upon them by the world becoming an incredibly complex place and it is unlikely that any one organisation has the necessary in-house skills, know-how and expertise to continue to develop by themselves and stay cost effective. Thus, increasingly, business is done collaboratively between businesses and other organisations; the days of the lone pioneer are over.

The past few years we have seen the rise of the private business consultancy firms – small outfits that specialise in being agile, having new ideas, and looking at things in new ways. Being an influencer in this space has become a kind of specialisation in its own right. For those of us who love innovation and sharing those innovations with others and conducting business in the spirit of collaboration, the opportunities to influence have never been greater or more widely appreciated.

I would suggest that no-matter what level of business you are at; from start-up to established, the path to longevity and success is to aspire to be an influencer.

Michael Worthington