Position Yourself as an Expert by Becoming an Author

Years ago, an associate of mine who read one of my books and attended some of my training sessions called me and said, “I really love your material, but why don’t you put more emphasis on your ideas about ‘creating your identity as a brand’ and how it affects your networking efforts?  These ideas have made a huge impact on my business, but I don’t hear you talking about it very often.”

I admitted that this associate of mine was right.  I haven’t talked a lot about identity in my material, and I agree that I should say more.

When I started my first business decades ago, I had no idea how important it was to focus on branding my company and myself in the marketplace as a way of enhancing my networking efforts.  I understood the concept from an advertising and marketing perspective, but with a small business I didn’t have the advertising budget to mold myself or my company into any kind of brand—at least, that’s what I thought at the time.  So I ignored it.  I realized later that I’d made a big mistake in not pursuing any strategies to brand my identity.  It wasn’t until the early ’90s that I started to think about branding and how it would help in my networking efforts.

Networking is all about relationships.  Relationships are about establishing credibility.  Credibility takes time.  What I needed to do was expedite that process as much as possible while still creating genuine credibility in the marketplace at large.  Not having much of a budget, I had to get creative about how I would make this happen. 

I saw that if I wanted to increase my visibility and enhance my credibility in the community, I needed to be viewed as the local expert.  The way I decided to start creating that brand was to begin writing articles.  Now, you may say, “What’s so special about that idea?  I’ve heard people suggest it before.”  Well, here’s the bottom line: hearing it and doing it tend to be very different things.

You can derive the same identity-building, brand-boosting benefit from writing articles as I did.  It may surprise you, but editors and reporters need good story ideas and will use them wherever they can find them.  Think about the things you know and understand best.  What elements of that knowledge might be of interest to the general public, a specific industry, or some targeted demographic?  Review the types of media outlets that write for your chosen audience.  Consider newspapers, magazines, and industry journals, but also take a good look at online opportunities such as e-zines, online newsletters, and information sites.

Either by phone or letter, tell the editor why readers will be interested in the feature idea you have or why it is newsworthy.  What are you doing in your business that strikes a chord in the community?  What can you share that will educate the editor’s readers?  A word of caution, though:  too many people who seek to be featured in newspapers or magazines send the equivalent of a company brochure.  They fail to realize that editors and reporters need hooks, angles, ways to relate to a distracted, overworked, frenzied readership. 

Guided by the Certified Networker training I developed for the Referral Institute, the associate of mine that I mentioned earlier chose a topic he knew about and worked with it for some time.  He is in the travel industry, so he wrote a series of articles about travel and sent them to various outlets each month for several months.  He received some responses—all “No, thank you”—until, finally, one local newspaper called him and said they’d like to use his piece in the next day’s edition.  After it came out, they contacted him again and asked if he’d like to do a monthly piece.  Before long, another media outlet saw his work and asked him if he’d like to write for them.

Today he writes regular articles for several media outlets.  More importantly, it has totally changed his business.  Although many travel companies are going out of business due to vast changes in the industry, he is actually growing and thriving, because his articles have created an identity or brand for him and the company he owns.  Moreover, he is still an active networker, and he notes that the articles he writes put him way above his competition by enhancing his credibility with the people he meets.  He capitalizes on this regularly by bringing his recent articles to networking meetings.

This businessman’s experience serves as a great example of what’s possible for your own networking efforts.  When you get some of your pieces published, promote themThey won’t necessarily increase your sales overnight, but they will greatly enhance your credibility throughout the networking process, which absolutely increases your sales over time.  My friend also told me that he now includes links on his website to some of the online articles he produces as a way of enhancing his credibility with existing and potential clients.

So, if this is such a great idea, why haven’t I said more about it in the past?  Well, in my book Masters of Success, I talk about success being the “uncommon application of common knowledge.”  If you ask a successful person the secret of his success, you will almost never hear a secret!  Writing articles regularly and continually to increase your credibility and enhance your networking opportunities is not a secret.  It’s simply an idea that most people are just too lazy to implement. 

The bottom line is, 98 percent of people won’t actually do it.  Or, they’ll do it for a little while and give up.  The associate that encouraged me to talk more about this strategy agreed, but he said, “Do it for the 2 percent of people like me who will apply the idea.  It will make a difference for them, as it did for me.”

If you believe you can stick with this strategy over time, sit down and jot out topics of four articles you could write that fit with your business and networking goals—and that you believe would serve the readers of a particular publication.  Then, draft a letter addressed to the editor of that publication, and pitch your ideas.  If he says yes, it’s time to start writing!  If the answer is no, consider following up with him to determine what kinds of articles would better fit his needs.  

Well, there you go.  That’s a lot of advice and my associate should be happy that I took his good suggestion to talk more about branding for the 2 percent of people that will follow through.  So, the question now is: Are you part of the 2 percent or the 98 percent?  It’s your choice.

Do You Want To Become a Best-Selling Author? Here’s Your Chance. . .

I’m working on a new project with Nick Nanton, Esq., The Celebrity Lawyer, which gives small business owners, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople around the world the opportunity to establish themselves as experts in their field by achieving best-selling author status.

We recorded a call outlining the details of the project last month and you can listen to the call for free by clicking here.  If you have ever been interested in becoming a best-selling author, I highly encourage you to listen to the call today as registration for participation in the project ends this Friday (3-25-11).

One of the reasons I chose to become involved with this project is because I firmly believe that being recognized as a best-selling author is a highly effective way for businesspeople to establish credibility as an expert in their field and drive business, and I wanted to be a part of an initiative that helps give people this opportunity.  I also think that Nick Nanton is the perfect person to partner with in a project of this nature because of his experience and his background in promoting hundreds of authors to best-seller status.

Nick is known as The Celebrity Lawyer and Agent to the top Celebrity Experts for his role in developing and marketing business and professional experts, through personal branding, to help them gain credibility and recognition for their accomplishments.  He is recognized as one of the top thought leaders in the business world and has co-authored 8 best-selling books, including Celebrity Branding You!®.  Nick has led the marketing and PR campaigns that have driven more than 100 authors to best-selling status.

If you’d like to find out more about this opportunity, listen to the free recording of the call. You will learn how you can:

  • Become a Best-Selling Author
  • Position Yourself Above Your Competition
  • Use Your Best-Seller Status in Your Marketing to Grow Your Business
  • Use a Book to Drive Traffic and Lead-Generation on Your Website
  • Repurpose Your Content to Get Business Even from People Who Don’t Buy or Read Your Book
  • And More

CLICK HERE to listen to the free recorded call now.

Generate More Business by Offering Value-added Advice

It’s no secret that we all want to do business with people whom we know and trust.  So, how do you build rapport and create trust with new contacts at networking events?  By offering value-added advice–solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for another person.

Let’s say you’re a real estate agent talking with someone at a networking event who, although not ready to buy a home today, is heading in that direction.  You could say something like this:

Well, I know you’re not interested in buying a home right now.  But, when you’re ready to start looking, I highly recommend checking out the north part of town.  A lot of my clients are seeing their homes appreciate in the 10 to 20 percent range, and from what I understand, the city is thinking about building another middle school in that area.

See how it’s possible to offer some value-added advice without being too salesy?  A statement like this acknowledges that your prospect is not currently in the market (first sentence) but still demonstrates your expertise, so he will remember you when he’s ready to move.

This model works for consultants, CPAs, accountants, financial planners, coaches–just about anyone in a service-based industry in which knowledge is the main product. If you’re concerned about giving away your intellectual capital for free, look at it this way: few people are going to sign up to do business with you if they’re not sure you can do the job.  In the absence of a tangible product, you have nothing but your technical expertise to demonstrate that you have the goods.  And when you think about it, that makes sense.  Whenever you’re ready to buy an automobile, it doesn’t matter how much research you’ve done on a particular model, you’re probably not going to write your check until you’ve taken the car for a test drive.

The same is true for your prospects.  Give them a little test drive to show how it would feel to do business with you. If you’re a marketing consultant, give them a couple of ideas on how they can increase the exposure of their business.  Don’t go overboard; maybe offer a technique you read in a magazine or tried with one of your clients.  Just give them something they can try on to see if it works.

Not only will this open up a good conversation with new contacts while you’re out networking, if you play your cards right, whom do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service? 🙂  When it comes to building rapport and creating trust, nothing does it better than offering value-added advice.

Think You Don’t Need a Network?–Think Again . . .

As a small-business professional or entrepreneur, how do you:

  • Get advice and help when problems arise
  • Gather the information you need for making important business decisions
  • Identify your markets and locate potential clients?

Unfortunately, most people get help in times of need from individuals or businesses they don’t know well. Instead of anticipating and planning for needs and emergencies, they are forced to react to every situation. They search the internet or ask friends and associates to help solve problems or recommend solutions, even though these people may not have the necessary expertise, and the sources they recommend may have little relevance to or experience with the business operation that is in need.

As a small-business owner, you don’t have the built-in resources to employ a management team to plan ahead, proactively problem solve, obtain and maintain ready access to vital resources–information, personnel, funding–and make informed decisions quickly in an emergency.  What you need is the functional equivalent of a management team and that is exactly what a network is for!

Your network is a systematically and strategically selected group of people on whom you can call as the need arises. It is a diverse, balanced and powerful system of sources–people from all facets of the business world–that will provide referrals, information and support in key areas of your business or profession, over both the short and the long term.

So, if you know someone who doesn’t want to put in the time and effort to establish a network because he thinks his business is just fine without one, do him a huge favor and explain why he needs to think again.

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