There is no getting away from it: to become an expert you have to know your stuff and have the experience to back it up. But there comes a point when knowing your stuff is one thing, becoming a recognised expert in your field and building the profile that goes with it is another.
Below are five tried and tested methods you can use to increase your public profile.
1. Developing your personal brand.
This is the process by which you create your signature for success. It enables you to become an expert in your field. Personal branding, providing you can back it up with excellent services or products, allows you to charge higher fees because of the value your personal brand represents. Are you clear about your mission, vision and positioning statements? What are your differentiators and unique selling points? Think about how you physically present yourself to the outside world; is it in keeping with how highly successful business-owners in your industry present themselves? Don’t fall into the trap of knowing these things in your head but not writing them down. Writing down these statements and your USPs makes them more concrete and forces you to be concise and specific, which in turn produces solid results. Something that stays in your head can often become vague and, over time, forgettable.
2. Keeping your language current?
This gets a special mention as it is often an area that is overlooked. A number of years ago a senior director was made redundant from an insurance company; one of the reasons the company gave for letting her go was that her language wasn’t current. Have you noticed how phrases like ‘reach out’ and ‘on point’ have seeped into our business speak? Keeping your language current is a must for every business-owner. Listen to the words your industry leaders are using to describe current issues; invest time in reading relevant business journals like the Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company and various online publications. Watch webcasts like the TED talks and join business clubs such as MOXIE. Being exposed to a constant stream of relevant business learnings will ensure that your language will stay current and never let you down.
3. Sharpening the tools of your trade.
Having the right touchstones is paramount if you want to be seen as ‘being current’. Marketing materials, such as, your business card, website and letterhead speak volumes about your positioning. I often see websites that haven’t been refreshed in years, or are obviously home jobs. The ‘About Us’ page is the most frequently visited page on any SME website – it’s the page that sells you more than anything else. How often do you update yours?When starting out it is not uncommon for start-ups and SMEs to produce their own website or sit down with the local printer and design their business cards. This all saves money but it takes time away from what you do best.
Also, unless you have a background in design, how expert are you at producing these types of materials? As soon as possible you need a specialist to start creating your marketing materials; this is a worthwhile investment as you always need to represent yourself in the best possible light. A graphic designer not only brings to the table their years of experience and academic qualifications but most importantly their creativity, which can help you to stand out from the crowd rather than blend into the background. Consider working with your graphic designer in stages so that as you build your business you can invest more of your hard-earned revenue in professional design.
To keep costs down remember to do your homework and look at how the best businesses in your field are representing themselves. Look at companies you admire outside your industry; how are they showcasing their services, products and people and what could you learn from them? What do you like? What don’t you like? Armed with this information you can create the type of detailed brief your designer needs to hit the decks running.
4. Getting your point across.
When you have the right touchstones you can create content that showcases your expertise. Take time to produce a plan that looks at raising your profile over the next six to twelve months. Set time aside to write articles and press releases on your area of knowledge; by sharing your know-how you will start to create your guru like status. Looking for speaker opportunities at industry events or at your local business club is a good idea, as is running a series of webinars and inviting your contacts to attend. Make sure you weave in your key messages so that you continue to build your platform of excellence.
But how do you generate great content when starting from nothing?
Easy. Look at leaders in your industry; identify what they are writing and talking about. How do they utilise the anecdotes they have accumulated along the way in order to demonstrate their expertise? What type of research do they draw upon to support their thinking? Ask them for an interview to find out the top five things they would like to see changed in the industry and write about that, with their permission of course. Think back to when you first started out – what would you like to have know then that would have made life easier for you and share this information with others. Look at what is happening in the news; where can you draw parallels between those news stories and your industry so that your points of view resonate with your target audience
5. Investing your time wisely with social media.
A lot has been written about the benefits of using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to engage with your target audience and showcase your expertise. We know they are great tools to build brand awareness, participate in industry conversation and generating sales leads. The challenge I hear people talking about is the amount of time they have to invest in keeping on top of all of this. The key is planning. You need to set some time aside every day to stay on top of your social media. You need to plan what you will post on your sites, when you will post them and ensure you have time to follow-up. If you do not follow-up all your hard work and the time invested in creating your content will be wasted.
If you carry out these five steps your path to creating your public profile as an industry expert will be a smooth one. Reputations are not built overnight and it cannot be denied that it takes years of hard work to achieve that coveted spot of recognition. You have got to make this activity a regular part of your working week, create a plan of action and consistently attack it by appearing in the press, speaking at industry events and writing articles. Only then will you reap the benefits in terms of your investment and start to see you public profile soar.
The Blueprint Practice