Saturday, March 31, 2012

How Being an Expert Can Help You Grow Your Business and Get More Sales

If you are ready to take your business, speaking career or book to the next level, consider becoming an expert. There's a lot of talk these days about "being an expert," and many folks who say they are experts really aren't. Becoming an expert isn't an overnight process, it takes time. In my view, however, it's time well-spent.

I often get requests from folks wanting me to make them an expert and while it's somewhat doable, it's not entirely realistic that someone else can bestow you with expert status. Even if you pay them. You might argue that that's what a media/marketing person should do and to some degree, that's true. But what a lot of speakers, business owners and authors fail to understand is that becoming an expert isn't something you do overnight, and if you hire a company to do this for you you'll need a pretty big budget and a whole lot of time.

First, why would you want to become an expert? Because experts get considered for potential speaking engagements, acknowledged by the media, and noticed by potential customers. But being an expert, in a sea of experts, isn't always easy. Doesn't it seem that these days everyone is calling themselves an "expert?" Yet so few are. Being an expert shouldn't be an ego thing, you should do it only if it benefits you, your goals, your business and your book (if you have one). You can't bestow expert status on yourself (and it doesn't count if you add it to your bio); people in the industry have to start viewing you as the expert and you can only get there one way: hard work. Being an expert and holding onto that expert status requires a daily dedication. I promise you that if you stay true to this, becoming an expert will really help enhance your business and professional opportunities. Here's how you get started:

1) Have a voice: Yes, this means a blog and yes, this means writing blog posts at least twice a week. Speak to your topic and do this on your blog. It's important, trust me. The blogs don't have to be long, 500 or so words, even less. The reality is that as long as the blog contains helpful information, that's all that matters.

2) Content, content: Generate helpful, insightful content that speaks to your end-user. Mike Stelzner talks a lot about this in his book: Launch ( http://www.amazon.com/Launch-Quickly-Propel-Business-Competition/dp/111802723X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329270823&sr=1-1 ). Creating helpful, useful content is a great way to drive interest and readers to your website.

3) Be Trendy: Right now Pinterest is all the rage in social media, and you can bet that every social media expert is jumping on this site to see what it's about. Is it a fad? Will it become the next Twitter? Whatever the trend is in your market, be sure that you're on top of it, know what's happening and what's hot. This will also help you create insightful blog posts and other content.

4) Participate in media requests: If you don't subscribe to HARO and other media leads services (and most of them are free), you should start doing that and make it a rule to respond to at least one media lead a week. If you aren't sure how to respond to leads, check out my article ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/maximizing-media-leads_b_748574.html ) on using media leads to grow your career.

5) Get social: This means that you do need to get out there and do some social media but don't just go "everywhere" - go everywhere that matters. If LinkedIn isn't part of your demographic, there's no need to be on it. Find out where the other experts are in your market and then go to those sites.

6) Go to events: Being an expert isn't always about networking online, sometimes it's also about going to events, getting to know others in your industry and staying "in the know" when it comes to the latest technology and trends.

7) Be generous: Giving information is really a way to capture a bigger audience. I've seen people bristle at this statement but it's really the way to go. While it might seem counterintuitive to give away information, consider this: the psychology of giving information is that your consumer will think "if they are willing to give this away, I bet they know a whole lot more" and then they will be willing to pay for that "whole lot more." We've always given away a ton of information, sometimes to the point that people say, "How do you make a living?" Well, we do make a living and have for 11+ years living by this model. We've never run a single paid ad for our business, it's all word of mouth, and, free information that brings people to our door.

8) Network online: It's always important to make online networking part of your daily/weekly routine. What do I mean by online networking? Consider following several of the biggest experts in your category and then retweeting their tweets, and commenting on their Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn posts. Generally make sure that you are sharing their info and hopefully someday they will help you share yours.

9) Review other people's books: If you're in a market with folks who author books, you should consider reviewing their titles on Amazon.com. Not only is there a lot of goodwill in that, but it's a great way to connect with other experts in your market.

10) Be helpful: This is right up there with being generous. Be willing to extend a hand to someone else in your industry to help them with a launch, offer to share their promo with your list, or give some insight to an industry newbie.

Becoming an expert isn't just doing one thing consistently, it's really a blend of many different things that should be part of your daily and weekly routine. Having a voice in your market will not only help to raise your profile, but it will also help boost your business. You'll find opportunities coming your way, and marketing your speaking career, business, or book won't seem like such an uphill battle. At the end of the day, becoming an expert is really about joining the conversation both online and off. It's about lending some helpful insight when warranted and about sharing your wisdom with others. Give and you'll get; it may sound corny but it works.

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

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