Monday, August 8, 2011

How to Become an Authority in Your Industry

It's more important than ever to become an authority in your industry.  You may think that the market is overcrowded, but don't be fooled.  Most people assume that you have to be an author, self-employed or a CEO to be seen as an authority.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, with the job market being what it is -- your chances of landing that dream position may hinge on how you are perceived in the industry.  Any company would be happy to build its own credibility by having the industry authority as part if their team.

In a recent article on the AMEX Open Forum, I discuss fourteen ways that you can build your authority and become an influencer in your industry -- pay special attention to item #12 and see how research plays an important role:

You may already be an influencer and not even know it – in which case, the steps I’m going to describe here will catapult you into stardom (maybe not, but they will help).  And if you’re not an influencer, but would like to be, you’ll find this roadmap a helpful start on your strategic plan toward dominating your target market.

  1. Focus on a very specific topic area (niche).  If you haven’t quite figured this one out, you’re going to be in for an emotional ride.  You MUST find a targeted, focused niche in which to specialize. You will not limit your audience, instead you will attract a very interested audience.  Start by brainstorming. Then do some keyword analysis; use Google Keywords and check out SEO Book to start.  You can also go into your own accounts and target the most profitable and fun ones.

  2. 10,000 hours of working in your area.  In his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell says that you need 10,000 hours to get good at anything.  This is another way to look at where you may have influence.  What subject or work has engrossed you over the last decade to the point that you’ve invested 10,000 hours in becoming better?  The answer may surprise you because it may NOT be in your existing business.  But this says something about where your talents and passions lie.

  3. Own the keywords in your area of expertise.  You will need to have done the Google Keyword exercise above to do this step.  Pick a handful of keywords that you will own.  This means that when people type in this combination of words, your goal is to be at the top of the list.  This doesn’t just apply for Google searches – this applies for mind-share.

  4. Blog.  You must blog if you want to be an authority or influence people.  You don’t have to blog daily, but you must provide valuable content that is congruent with your keywords and your area of expertise.  Blogging is a full page advertisement for who you are and what you promise.  Use it well.

  5. Write guest articles for high traffic blogs.  If your blog content is good, then your guest posts should be better.  Target popular high-traffic blogs in your area of interest and send the editor a killer article. Make sure that it will bring traffic to them as well as yourself.  Educate their audience, inform them, make it easy for them to take action and learn something.  The editor will appreciate the content and you will both appreciate the traffic.

  6. Write a book or eBook.  Self-publishing is not a bad word and publishing eBooks and Kindle books can be down-right profitable.  Just read about John Locke, the Kindle Single sensation (he’s an entrepreneur who writes short novels). He’s figured out how to become a best selling eBook author as well as an influencer and motivator of self-published authors.

  7. Schedule speaking engagements.  Hit the speaker circuit. This will be a high investment in time, money and energy, but the payoff may be worth it depending on your presentation skills and your subject matter.  Don’t think that your niche is too small, rather focus on the value that you bring to the audience.

  8. Create and run seminars and/or webinars.  This is similar to live speaking, and yet it’s very different.  Running a seminar or a webinar involves your putting in some serious marketing and promoting energy.  The upside is that you can charge for seminars and webinars, so they are a way to promote as well as sell.  In addition to this, you can record them more readily and use them over and over.  Check out Stealth Seminar (I can’t believe I’m sharing this)  it will allow you to record a seminar and run it over and over as if it’s live.

  9. Send Press Releases.  Social media is a great public relations tool, but don’t forget about press releases.  They are still very powerful.  Remember, that when you’ve targeted a specific industry, you’ve narrowed your distribution list AND also increased your chances of visibility.  Post them on your blog, use PRWeb or other release distribution service.  One last hint about releases – write them as a ready-to-print article so that the people who pick them up don’t have to do too much editing.

  10. Do a radio show or internet radio show.  BlogTalk Radio is a great resource.  You can set up an internet radio show in less than 30 minutes.  Your content will be syndicated and distributed (based on those keywords again). And your content is immediately available.  Do a show that features other experts in your area.  This creates a win-win promotional opportunity for both parties.

  11. Help others succeed.  This is more of a general tip that goes with every strategy that you take on.  For each action you take look for ways to partner and co-brand with other experts.  When you cross promote with other experts, you get the benefit of being referred to their list and they get referred to your list.

  12. Do research in your area and own the data.  Another strategy that many experts forget about is doing research or surveys with their audience.  With so many free survey tools available it’s a huge waste of opportunity not to start gathering data about your industry and audience.  You can use any number of free online survey tools, but also consider learning about mobile research panels.  This way you will be able to run shorter surveys and have a conversation with your respondents.  It’s the latest trend.

  13. Create information products based on your expertise.  There are already several information products that I’ve mentioned in this list; seminar, radio broadcasts, webinars, books and ebooks.  Don’t let any bit of your knowledge go to waste, turn it into articles.  Then combine the articles into a book.  Take the book and rework it to become a seminar or webinar.  Focus on one area and do a speech on that.  If you’re currently consulting, start a diary or blog post a review of your day.  Convert the advice you gave into something educational for a broader audience.

  14. Participate in Influencer projects.  Last year Fast Company did an experiment called “The Influencer Project” regardless of whether you feel that it was a valid or invalid measure of who an influencer is, it is evidence of a trend that includes creating communities of trusted experts.  If you see events or projects like this; nominate yourself and your clients.  Work to promote their progress in the project.  Each of these projects creates a living database or list of people that others have felt are influential enough to describe in a nomination form.  Take a look at the SMBInfluencer Awards as an example.  People nominated individuals, companies and media organizations they felt influenced small business.  This is a living list and a promotional opportunity.


Becoming an authority, expert or influencer is all within your control.  Focus on where you spend the most time, money, effort and skill and share it consistently and persistently.  And remember, to decide on whether you’re in it to make money or be famous, because the two don’t always go together.  Focus on your business goals and then use these tips to build your influence to achieve them.
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