Why do you even care about being an expert, you may wonder? Because customers and clients come from a broad variety of sources and the more frequently your name or your business’s name appears “out there” (in conversation, in Google search, in your local newspaper, in magazine articles, on Facebook), the more credibility you earn and the more likely someone is to say “hey, I heard that XYZ Widget company does that”. Customers want to invest their hard earned dollars in trustworthy companies. Being an expert builds trust.
As a small business person, you have a wealth of experience and information that you can share. In the Internet age, it is easy and possibly lucrative to brand yourself as an “expert”. Whether you are a retailer, a craftsperson or a service provider, going the expert-route is a great way to drive those customers to your business.
Warning: You must be willing to commit time and energy to building your expert status. Don’t expect overnight results and do plan on devoting many weekly hours on the process. You can outsource much of the work, but that will cost you money. Time vs. money: up to you. So how do you go about it?
You must have a Web site, a blog and active profiles on at least the Big 3 of social media (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). Be prepared to write or to hire a writer. Leverage blog posts and articles on sites like Ezine.
I recommend signing up with Help a Reporter Out so you have the opportunity to be interviewed by journalists seeking experts. They need you!
Answer questions on LinkedIn, Yahoo Answers, Small-Business-How-To.com forums, trade forums and on Twitter. There are others that are worth your time as well: Squidoo, Ning, FriendFeed. Be sure that all of your social media profiles link to your blog/site and that you post your articles
Use video! This means embed videos of you doing short, informative pieces on your expert topic. If you are a carpenter, discuss wood choices, furniture styles, methods. If you are a retailer, discuss products, ordering systems, store displays. Add them to your site and to YouTube, Viddler and Vimeo.
Keep searches up and running on your area of expertise so you can find opportunities to interact and speak on your topic and so you can stay up-to-date. It also provides opportunities for writing topics. Use Google Alerts, Google Reader and TweetGrid as tools.
If you want more information, I recommend Get Slightly Famous by Steven Van Yoder.
by Steven Schlagel