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Grow Your Business by Growing Your Credibility as an Expert

In today’s world of 5-person or less small businesses, oftentimes building demand for your business requires building demand for your expertise as the owner and a subject-matter expert in your field. With the many resources available today, online and elsewhere, the opportunities to showcase your expertise and build your personal “brand”, as well as that of your company, are almost limitless. This article will provide you with tips to utilize some of these opportunities to your best advantage for growing your business.

Build Your Credibility as an Expert thru Blogging

Having an area of expertise is useless if no one knows about it. In order for your expertise to help you build your business, you need to let people know that you have expert knowledge to share. One of the easiest ways to do this is through blogging on your field of expertise.  Blogs are fairly simple to set up, and if you use one of the free blog hosting platforms such as Wordpress.com or Blogger, there is no cost associated with it. Blogging can be one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing your expertise, and your company, that you’ll find.

Once you’ve started your blog, create posts that demonstrate your expertise – about your subject matter, your industry, and all things related to your area of knowledge.  Stumped for a topic? One way to identify a topic in your area of expertise is to answer common questions about your subject matter. Consider questions that clients have asked you in the past, areas of assistance they needed – or consider recent events which have taken place within your industry or your community. All of these will likely present topics worthy of discussion in your blog.

Then you need to promote your blog; consider participation in social communities such as Facebook and LinkedIN, as well as Twitter. Each of these vehicles can be utilized to promote the content of your blog, and further reinforce your positioning as an expert. However, be certain when participating in these communities that you are not just “pushing your product” as it were. Such behavior is not looked upon favorably in these social media environments. Make sure that references to your content are provided in such a context that people will perceive its value as a benefit to them and will willingly share it in the online community, otherwise you are likely to be ignored.

After your blog has become well-established, then it’s time to branch out and begin writing on other blogs. Seek out other blogs that also deal with your area of expertise, or an area that is closely related, and leave well thought out comments about the blogger’s topic. Include a link to your blog in your comment if you have relevant information which you believe the blogger or his/her reader’s might find of value.  Do this regularly.

Once you have developed a relationship with another blogger thru regular comments, then it’s time to contact them directly to inquire about writing a guest post for their blog.  Posting on other blogs will enhance your position as an expert in your subject matter.

One caution to remember about building your expertise thru blogging – this is not meant to be a “sell, sell, sell” environment. You should not be utilizing the blog and your blogging relationships simply to push product, but rather to build your credibility in your field of expertise. Once you are an acknowledged expert, the selling will take care of itself.

Build Your Credibility as an Expert by Taking on Speaking Engagements

Another way of building your credibility as an expert in your field is through public speaking engagements, and by teaching workshops and seminars on your field of expertise.

To get you started, identify a list of networking, professional or trade association groups in your area and contact each one to learn their process for scheduling speakers at their meetings. Have a one-page presentation proposal available that you can email to them (or refer them to in your website) in order to be considered as a speaker on their meeting schedule. Find out if they are interested in learning more about your field of expertise.  Be sure that your proposal includes some sort of benefit that the organization members will receive as a result of your presentation such as a “Top 10 Tips”, or a complimentary copy of a book you’ve written, or some other “gift” that showcases your expertise and causes them to remember you after the speaking engagement has been completed.

Once again, avoid a “hard sell” of your services while you are making a presentation; your expertise will sell itself. However, do provide a handout for each attendee with examples of your expertise-at-work on it (such as a case study that you refer to in your presentation), as well as a business card and company brochure or similar marketing material.

Another method of building credibility thru public speaking is teaching.  You can offer a short series of seminars/workshops on your topic that your firm sponsors (or co-sponsor with a local chamber or similar organization to keep expenses to a minimum), or contact local vocational and technical schools and/or colleges to offer your services for adult education programs or as an adjunct instructor in the regular courses.  Often, community colleges will hire instructors who are currently working in their field of expertise.

Building Your Credibility as an Expert thru Your Portfolio

Having updated samples and links to your newest work such as case studies, white papers, photography, or other methodologies of documenting your skills and expertise can be vital to your positioning as an expert.  Make sure that you keep samples of all the work you do, and that your portfolio is updated frequently. If possible, make it available online so that you can easily provide it to those inquiring about your services.

Building Your Credibility as an Expert thru Articles Written for Publication

There are a wide variety of opportunities, offline and online, to showcase your expertise thru your writing skills.  Review print and electronic publications in your field to locate their submission guidelines, and then follow them carefully to submit articles for publication. Do the same with online article repositories such as eZinearticles.com.

Following these guidelines to build your personal brand, and that of your company, will serve over time to help you grow your business. Your expertise will become obvious to your readers and those you interact with. As your audience grows, so also will the opportunities that come your way for new revenue.

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The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses. She is a recognized expert with 20+ years experience in providing Marketing, Operations, HR, and Strategic planning services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.  Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.

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