You are, quite literally, competing against everyone else in your particular field, industry, or niche. The digital age has made the physical location of a company or service much less important, if not a complete non-factor. Many businesses exist only within the boundless confines of cyberspace.
Conduct a simple online search for virtually anything, and you’ll receive hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of instant results.
The Case for Authority
When you’re a recognized authority in your industry, you can charge more, influence more, and get more: credibility, attention, customers, you name it.
You want to stand out, reach out (to prospects, clients, followers, and other experts), and get out (attend networking events).
But you can’t just wave a magic marketing wand to become one. It’s going to take a lot of (totally worth it) time and effort.
Here’s what an authority is not: he or she is not always the smartest or most experienced in the room. They’re not self-professed. They don’t live and die by that descriptor.
An authority is always learning, practicing, improving. They follow industry news and trends. They’re willing to live outside their comfort zone. They care more about the quality of what they’re doing or selling than the label of “authority” or “expert” itself. Authorities admit their limitations.
In short, they show you that they’re an expert rather than tell you. The stamp is earned and claimed.
Sound good? Here’s the best part: anyone can do it. Yes, you need knowledge, experience, and a bit of bravado. But you can also assist your case with less obvious methods.
Want to be a recognized authority in your industry? Try these ten unexpected ways discovered during my time in the trenches.
To stand out, you need to take a stand (seems pretty obvious, right?). You sometimes need to rock the industry boat. As an authority, you must never be afraid to express your opinions or beliefs, even if they go against conventional wisdom.
Darwin, Copernicus, Einstein, and others initially disagreed with what everyone else believed…but who do we consider the experts now?
Help a Reporter Out
You may or may not have heard of services like HARO, but they can be a godsend for those looking to make their mark. HARO (and equivalents like PitchRate, SourceBottle, and ProfNet) connects reporters and writers with expert sources in a wide variety of industries.
You can get quoted, cited, and linked to, and that all improves your authority score and public awareness.
There’s no better way to earn your reputation than by answering the difficult questions. Services like Quora (people ask questions, and other people answer them) are a convenient way to share your expertise with a large audience.
Just make sure your answers are well written, useful, correct (so far as you know), and engaging (otherwise you’ll blend in with the background).
High Quality Content
Create, share (or sell), and distribute high quality content. You already know how effective content marketing is for spreading brand awareness, SEO, and building a following.
But it can also shine a spotlight on you in a crowded field.
- Write an ebook. Authors are instantly seen as authorities in their subject. Think of it like a long, detailed blog post. Modern tools like Scrivener make it easy to write and compile for formats including .mobi (Kindles) and .epub (iBooks).
- Guest blogging on respected industry websites is a great way to build not only your reputation and authority, but also backlinks (crucial for strong SEO).
- Contribute consistently to your own blog to connect with others, share your ideas and opinions, and spread awareness.
- Create a YouTube channel to answer user-submitted questions and issues, discuss industry trends, and give your expertise a face, name, and voice. Video (and especially YouTube) is incredibly powerful in 2016. Check out The #AskGaryVee Show for inspiration.
As you start to build up a content pipeline, use analytics tools to see which of the pieces you’ve published have had the biggest impact on your brand.
Ask for Help
No authority in any industry can do or know it all. So ask for help when you need it. Admit when you don’t know something. Surround yourself with gifted and skilled people. Don’t try and do it all alone.
People are more willing to accept “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out” than some B.S. response that doesn’t answer the question. No one expects you to be an omniscient guru sitting on the mountain. It is not a weakness to not know or need help. In fact, it strengthens your appeal.
Social media is an unprecedented channel for connecting and sharing with millions around the planet (with an estimated 2.51 billion social media users worldwide by 2017). Use it.
Participate on the right platforms (depends on your target audience…millennials on Snapchat, professionals on LinkedIn, women on Pinterest, and so on). Reach out, connect, engage, share, discuss, and communicate.
Speaking and teaching opportunities are invaluable. Offer to teach or speak about your industry at your local library, the adult education or community centre, trade shows, schools, or churches.
An extension of the “Get Seen” directive, volunteering your time and expertise for local charities and organizations is a fantastic source of free publicity and networking, to say nothing of the goodwill it will generate and how good you’ll feel doing it.
Start a Meetup Group
There’s a group for everything and everyone these days. Why should your area of authority be any different? Host a weekly or monthly group in real life (check out Meetup for assistance) or an online get-together on Periscope, Hangouts, or Facebook Live.
Keep it laid back and informal, but with a purpose.
It may sound a bit generic, but making yourself likeable can give you a big shot in the arm.
“When people like the source of the message, they trust the message.” – Tim Sanders, author of The Likeability Factor.
“Liking” is even one of Robert Cialdini’s six weapons of influence.
Share your story. Be real, human, and approachable. Tell people about your early struggles, your journey to mastery, and how you’re using it now as an authority.
Authorities are knowledgeable about their niche (“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” – Nicholas M. Butler). But they also need to be recognized as such for it to have any impact.
Go. Get recognized.
What steps are you taking to increase your authority? Leave your ideas below!