Published on May 25th, 2012 | by Contributing Author3
How to Be an Expert People Trust – and Buy From
When it comes to business, credibility is crucial. People are more likely to pay attention, trust what you have to say, and – most importantly – buy from you when you’re reputable. And while things like lots of good word of mouth and positive PR will help boost your credibility, they’re not always something you can control.
Building yourself as an expert in your profession, however, is something you can control. People look to experts to provide new perspectives and help solve their issues. Think about that CEO who has a regular column in a top magazine. Or the person who’s on stage at a conference giving a great presentation. They’re not doing it just for kicks; they’re doing it to establish expertise and credibility so that people, and potential customers, will remember them.
You can do the same; after all, no one knows your business better than you do. Why not show off that knowledge? Chances are, there are people who haven’t experienced what you have, and would be interested in what you have to say. Here are a few ways to get started.
1. Determine your topic of expertise – and stick to it
Think about what you can offer in the long term that will help your colleagues and customers. (Tip: It’s not your product or service; see No. 5.) If you own a catering business, you probably have tons of recipes and kitchen shortcuts to share. If you’re a fitness trainer, you’re the perfect source for people who want to know what works and what doesn’t for getting fit. Now’s the time to let everyone else know.
Consistency is key when you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert. Our friend Andy Sernovitz, for example, is a well-known thought leader and expert on marketing. He also loves bbq, but you won’t find him blogging away about grilling equipment on his website. Being focused on what you want to be known for makes it easy for people to remember who you are and where they’ve heard about you.
2. Stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest
It’s impossible to be an expert at anything if you aren’t aware of what’s going on in the world and in your business category. Keep up with the latest news, trends and issues affecting your industry and your customers. Carve 30 minutes out of your day, every day, to read the headlines. The more you know, the more opportunities you have to provide a perspective on something that’s on everyone’s radar.
3. Produce helpful, compelling content
Now that you’ve got a topic and interesting stuff to say, say it! An easy way to get your viewpoints and expertise out there is through your own blog. The key is to create new content regularly (at least weekly, preferably more often when you’re starting out). This helps create momentum and gives others a reason to check back regularly. Not to mention, all that fresh content is great for search engine optimization (SEO). Get the word out by teasing your blog posts using social media and email marketing. Inform all your colleagues, too, about your blogging efforts so they can share with their networks.
Once you’re in a writing routine, reach out and offer to write for other websites that post content relevant to your industry. This is a great way to get your expertise in front of new eyeballs and boost your authority. Just be sure the site is high quality (beware of content farms) and reaches the audience you want. Trade magazines, too, are often looking for contributors. Whether it’s an online or offline publication, you usually can include a short author’s bio with a couple of sentences about who you are and your company, as well as a URL.
4. Apply for speaking engagements
Old-fashioned face-to-face is still very important when it comes to establishing expertise. Plus, with everyone live-tweeting and live-blogging these days, being a speaker or panelist is even more rewarding. Every industry has trade shows and conferences with presenters, panelists, workshops and more, and they usually issue a “call for speakers” four to five months before the event, depending on event size. (If there isn’t one, reach out to the event coordinator.) Start with smaller events to get your feet wet and gain some experience.
5. Don’t be self-promotional
Approaching this as a strategy to talk about how great your company is will get you nowhere fast – and ruin your credibility. You must be genuinely invested in helping your colleagues and customers. Whether it’s blogging or speaking, you need to provide real, ongoing value so that people will remember you. Once you’ve established that awareness, it’s much easier for them to choose you over the competition when they’re in the market for your product or service.
Becoming an industry leader won’t happen overnight, and it shouldn’t – building credibility and trust requires time. But if you’re committed, you should start seeing a positive difference in your reputation and in your business.
Who are the leaders in your industry, and what do they do to establish their expertise?
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