The world is changing. Forever.

If the world you live in has anything to do with content or expertise or being a go-to professional, it’s likely you’re in for a shock. You might be there already.

Let me explain.

About four decades ago a media theorist named Alvin Toffler predicted that the coming digital revolution would come with a price:

The rate and scale of change would produce culture shock.

His prediction was that this shock would be akin to the kind you’d experience if you got on an airplane and visited a strange place with radically different customs, food, and social norms.

That shock is happening here and now. It’s a whole pile of distraction and noise that pummels us. And it’s pummeling those we’re trying to reach, teach, and lead.

The consequence? It’s befuddling and disconcerting, and many of us are downright exhaustipated (too tired to give a crap).

Here’s the good news…if you’re ready to change:

Ironically, relationship is the oldest new killer app.

There is a universal constant in humanity that transcends technology and change and uncertainty and noise: We all want and need to be wanted and needed.

In other words, the charge to reach, teach, and lead includes a weapon that is no secret but oft forgotten: The highest form of influence, education, and leadership you can wield is a real, authentic connection. Your voice. Your insight. Your meaning-making.

Be wary, however. Talking about meaning and purpose and authenticity isn’t what gets you gigs.

Despite mountains of evidence that people that experience a sense of purpose, autonomy, and self-directed mastery equate to the real productivity that will turn the head of any profit-driven executive.

That’s just a tad ironic, don’t you think?

When the consumers of your content appreciate you, your voice, your insight, and the fact that you genuinely give a rip about them, they’re more likely to pay attention, more likely to trust you, and more likely to take action on what they learn from you.

(At least) three trends are disrupting all we’ve known

The volume of content is exploding, so it’s harder than ever for you to be heard.

In 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt noted, “Every two days we create as much information as we did (in all of human history) up to 2003.”

In 2011, analyst firm IDC predicted in their Digital Universe report that “Overall data will grow 50X by 2020.”

In August 2012, Coursera, only one of the growing number of online courses referred to as “MOOCs” (massively open online courses) hit one million students from 196 countries. Coursera was founded in 2012.

Hear me correctly here: Data, information, knowledge, and learning are not the same things. But look at the big picture. If your world is content (the world I’ll use for the bigger picture), your world is getting rocked.

And as the saying goes, if you haven’t noticed, you’re not paying attention.

Access to content is exploding, so my time is at a premium

In 2011 smart phone sales surpassed the sales of PCs.

Increasingly, the line is blurring between “phones” and computers. A 2012 report noted that half of phone users are now using smart phones, and the average phone had 41 apps installed.

Other barriers to entry are crumbling, so your competition will be exploding

The cost of communicating worldwide is approaching free. Skype is free, and even the most professional web conferencing apps will enable full audio/visual/video multi-person meetings and classes for pennies a day.

So if content and access to it are ubiquitous, then what does that mean for people whose life and living are getting paid for what they know and do professionally?

As we evolve into the Connectorship Age, success will mean needing to be…

Interesting — Start with improving their personal “interestingness”

In the Industrial Age, optimizing a system was part of value creation. Parts became interchangeable. Deviation was bad. Six Sigma was born.

In the Information Age, optimizing a system was part of value creation. People became interchangeable. Deviation was bad. HR departments created more tidy boxes for you to fit into.

In the Connectorship Age, optimizing how people know and understand you and your value will be essential. And they’ll pay more attention when you’re interesting and distinction – whether you’re a solopreneur or trying to get something accomplished inside a large organization.

Key success strategies will include:

  • Knowing your own distinctions. My favorite is the Core Values Index (for which I’m a coach).
  • Developing your digital presence. You have a brand, whether you like it or not. What people find on the web is like you planning how to dress for an occasion.
  • Finding, honing, and extending your “voice.” This might be your actual audio voice, or it’s how you otherwise write and position yourself.

Useful — Create value by connecting people ideas in more useful ways

In the Industrial Age knowledge was centralized and scarce.

In the Information Age knowledge became more available, but it was still relatively finite.

In the Connectorship Age, knowledge will be so abundant that it itself becomes more noise.

Zig Ziglar use to say, “To get what you want, just help enough other people get what they want.” And what will they want in a world of noise? Context. Personalization. Shortening the time to personal application or benefit by dialoguing with someone who helps them connect the dots.

Key success strategies will include:

  • Honing your ability to converse, explain, and influence. Especially as it relates to addressing complexity simply through story.
  • Understanding how different media used in communication affect how you relate and interact. Especially when making presentations or teaching classes.
  • Developing a sense of value in a world where some people see everything as “should be free.”

Directional — Provide vision by connecting the now to the next

In the Industrial Age, leading change took years, decades, or generations.

In the Information Age, the time scale decreased as the access to information increased.

In the Connectorship Age, the deficit will increasingly be in the realm of trust. What will be needed (or expected) is authenticity, transparency, and access to a leader that is more about a co-journey than a distant corner office.

Key success strategies will include:

  • Learning to spot trends and derive implications for you and your team or tribe.
  • Understanding how to “read” your audience, team, or fans’ mood when they’re not right in front of you.
  • Sharpening your ability to cast vision in a world hungry for connectedness and trust.

The bottom line: You’ll be writing your own story

The scary thing about this change is that there are no perfect answers. You will either write your story as it flows, or you’ll be working for someone else who is writing that story.