How to Become an Industry Influencer
Industry influencers are trusted for insights around major changes and are respected for their keen observations and forward-looking insights. Whatever your business goals, becoming an influencer in your industry can have a direct, positive impact on your efforts.
But it can take time and a lot of energy to get there, beyond what you already invest in growing your business. Influencers aren’t created overnight; they work hard to position themselves as experts who can be trusted by others in their field. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into becoming a trusted influencer in your industry.
Know Your Audience and What They Need
If your primary goal as an industry expert is to get rich, you’re going to struggle. People turn to experts because they have more knowledge, yes, but also because these influencers are sincere in their desire to help others succeed. And to do that, you must know your audience.
What do they worry about? What are their most common questions? What issues are they most likely to seek outside expertise on? What do they appreciate and look for in an influencer? These are all important questions you should know the answers to before you start building your personal brand.
Narrow Your Focus and Expertise
A successful influencer, especially in business, is an expert in a relatively narrow field. There are thousands of high-profile “business” experts. Breaking into that field can be difficult without a niche that sets you apart. Look for an intersection that draws on your professional experience and your current business focus. For example, maybe you have a strong background in communications and provide marketing and sales consulting services to the real estate market. Your focus could be real estate social media marketing. There are still competitors, but it’s a much narrower field, and the demand for information is still relatively high.
For inspiration, spend a few hours watching segments on CNBC or Cheddar. The experts they bring in likely have a relatively standard professional background but have positioned themselves as having particular expertise in narrow fields like renewable energy, AI in consumer electronics, or hospitality industry automation, for example.
Build a Portfolio that Showcases Your Expertise
Now that you know your audience and area of focus, it’s time to start generating content and presenting information in a way that positions you as an expert. There are many ways to do this, and there is no one right answer. Look at what is most comfortable for you and plays to your strengths. Written articles, videos blogs, live speeches, regular social media posts, responses to news and current events, or podcasting are all relevant channels through which you can distribute information and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
As an entrepreneur, look for channels designed to amplify your voice. Local chamber of commerce meetings or network groups for business owners frequently have events on the calendar for which speakers are needed. Even a lunch-and-learn with 15-20 people is a great way to start positioning yourself as an expert.
Build a Network to Grow Your Audience
In the age of social media, it is easier than ever to build a network to grow an audience and establish your influence. A website that features your content and is well optimized to rank in search engines, social media profiles that feature regular posts on topics related to your industry, and a heavy presence at industry-related speaking events can all help establish who you are and why you are worth listening to.
As part of this effort, build an email list you can populate with the names of people you meet at events, people who download content from your company or personal website, and others who are interested in regular updates. Your promotional efforts should always aim to offer value and help people with the issues you’ve identified. Blasting out a message that doesn’t help alleviate those concerns won’t be nearly as effective.
Make sure your message is customized to the channels through which it is distributed as well. It’s common to see the same tweet blasted out multiple times a day across multiple channels by someone who is eager to seem “active.” Customized messaging that takes into account the channel and the device used to access it will be much more effective.
Engaging with Your Network to Build Trust
A lot of entrepreneurs attempt to build a network with a shotgun approach to thought leadership. They blast information into the ether and hope people are attracted to it. It might even be useful information, but it lacks one key component to be successful – engagement. As an influencer, you need to be actively engaged with your audience, answering questions as they come in, providing content that addresses new issues as they come up, and addressing criticism and concerns in a cool, levelheaded way.
The goal of becoming an influencer is to be the person everyone turns to when something happens. New technologies, major upheaval from legislation, or a hot news story that people need professional insights on – they should turn to you. If you can position yourself as someone who is intent on providing real value in your content, you’ll be in a much better position to do this. 4