There is no doubt that social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook… and others are extremely popular; that blogging and writing articles about your area of expertise or passion build rapport and credibility and brings you closer to your prospective customers; and that creating collaborative joint ventures can instantly expand your market and grow your bottom line. But there are other ways for you to stand out in your field, niche or industry.
No matter what business you are in it always helps to be seen as an expert. If you were calling someone to fix a drain or sell your house you would approach the person you saw as most credible and reputable in that area of expertise. To become an expert takes hard work and experience. It can involve study or the honing of practical skills. It demands high standards of work. But after all this effort will you be perceived as an expert? If you feel you've earned the mantle of expert but are not recognized as one, here are eight ways to start establishing your reputation.
Publish a book or series of reports or articles
The internet has made this much easier. You can now create an ebook that can be downloaded without having to involve a publisher. There are ezine owners always looking for good quality articles and reports for their ezines. A well-written book or series of articles will establish your reputation as an expert in your field. Most popular free sites for article submission: ezinearticles.com, articlealley.com, goarticles.com.
Publish a newsletter
Set one up on the internet and distribute it to your customers and prospects. This is an excellent way to regularly keep your name in front of your prospects as an authority on your subject. The list of 30+ Online Newsletter Publishers (Mashable article: http://mashable.com/2007/08/10/email-newsletters/).
Write press releases
Used correctly these can gain you a lot of positive publicity. Make sure the press release looks like newsworthy information and not like an advertisement. 50 Tips for Press Release Writing (http://pressdr.com/blog/media-release-writing/50-tips-for-press-release-writing.php)
Create a blog or website
Set up a user-friendly blog or website that will appeal to customers and you have expanded the reach of your reputation. Keep it timely and informative, and people will continue to return to your site. If you don't know how to set up a website there are plenty of web designers who do. Alternatively enquire at a college teaching web design. Some students might want to build a portfolio. Most popular blogging platforms: WordPress.com, TypePad.com or Blogger.com.
If you are a member of an association it will enhance your credibility. But don't just be a member. Be an active member. This will build your reputation among your peers and lead to useful introductions. Membership can have many benefits, and it will certainly keep you up to date in your field.
You can boost your reputation and influence by speaking to the right people. Keep your name in front of your prospects. Organize mutually beneficial ventures. You cannot predict what may come from a contact so make as many as you can.
Even speaking to a local group of people can establish you as an expert and get you referrals that may lead to a wider audience. If you are not sure you can speak in public, preparation and rehearsal are the keys to success. Make sure your presentation is aimed at the right level, follows a sensible sequence and will not sound like a dry textbook-like monologue. Write your main points on small cards so you are not relying solely on your memory and start in front of a small audience.
Teach workshops or seminars
If you have knowledge that people would like to tap into you can pass on your expertise. If your presentation is well planned you will be seen as an authority in your subject. You will also meet people who are likely to recommend you to others. If you are teaching a hot topic you will also be gaining a useful income stream.
Any of these methods will start building your reputation as an expert. Use them all correctly and you will gain the sort of reputation that will have potential clients approaching you without having to seek them out.
Have you been using any other marketing and/or branding methods that have been working well for you? Please feel free to share them here for the benefit of everyone.