If you’re a professional looking to take your business to the next level in 2016, there are two things you’ll no doubt need to take into consideration: your competition and the strength of your brand. The strength of your brand will no doubt help when trying to set yourself apart from the competition. However, it’s well known that we’re living in a time of a lot of “noise.” Thanks to the wide availability of cutting edge tech, you’re no longer just competing with people in your city. You’re competing with anyone that has a high speed internet connection. Granted, if you’re a doctor or lawyer, you’re still concerned with primarily local competition. But, thanks to the increased numbers of professionals operating in any area, you’re still going to be competing with a lot of doctors or lawyers within your city limits.
This is where being a thought leader can help you find clients in unexpected places. “Thought leading” is one of those word combos that has become a marketing buzz phrase. While not a phrase with a long history behind it, the concept of becoming an influencer of how people think is the key to success in this world of social media, instant information, and the constant search for the next big thing. Jargon aside, this is a solid concept that nearly any professional should strive for. After all, your value is in your knowledge and the ability to get your message out. So, how does one start becoming their own personal brand and an authority that’s always in demand? Let’s get to “thinkfluencing” as some might say.
This is a big one, despite being decidedly not-so-tech related. Good old fashioned networking via speaking at conferences and gatherings still yields big results. There’s great value in becoming a leading expert in your specific field. Perhaps you’ve even spent time on the audience side of things watching someone giving a presentation and thinking “I wonder what that feels like,” or “I bet I could do that.” Well, now is the time to find out. Speaking at conferences is a great way to get yourself exposure. The key to influencing your industry is to be accepted as an authority. Securing a speaking role at a decent sized conference will get people talking to you and about you. If you’ve discovered something new and useful, get yourself out there. It’s a great way to get new leads.
Social networks are critical to growing your personal brand. There are many different avenues you can choose from. You’ll want to join professional networks that cater to your niche, for sure. Being surrounded by likeminded professionals is a great way to get a feel for what direction your industry is growing in, as well as what topics you may want to comment on as you grow your reputation as an expert in your field. You don’t have to stop at professional networks, either. By all means, use general interest social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Twitter especially can raise your profile because of the real time, rapid responses to the most talked about events of the day. Staying on top of hashtags can get you noticed. All it takes is for someone influential to find what you’re saying insightful and then you may see yourself being retweeted by large swaths of people. It’s hard to predict when you can go viral, but it happens. Keep a finger on the pulse of what’s being discussed in the public sphere and you may find opportunity begin to knock more often. Which leads to the next point when it comes to finding clients.
Give Quotes to the Media
At this point, you’re truly becoming an acknowledged expert in your field. You just need to get your foot in the door. So, you’re speaking at conferences and getting your name out there. Professionals in your field are starting to really notice you. You’re building your brand on social networks. A tweet you sent out got picked up and it took on a life of its own. Now you’re starting to receive requests for quotes. Or, you could answer open calls for expert input. Journalists and PR agents are always looking for expert quotes to strengthen a story or media release. Making an effort to get into these publications will help solidify your brand. With enough exposure, more writers will seek you out as their go-to expert to quote whenever they’re working on a project in your niche.
You’ve got the tools to start kicking your brand and your business into the next gear. Find clients by becoming in demand. Join professional social networks, go to events, try to get some mic time, and always be willing to give even a short quote to the media. If you’re tired from always chasing that next lead, have the leads come to you.