We live in a world filled with experts. Let’s face it: anyone with a degree, a certification, a few awards or years of experience in a particular industry can tout themselves as an expert. And in the dinosaur ages pre-Internet, this might have been enough.
Today, there are literally MILLIONS of people with special skills or knowledge and years of training under their belts. Smug and satisfied, these same people hang their degrees on their walls, create brochure-style websites, print up their business cards and call themselves experts.
But they are not authorities.
In our socially-driven, digital age, it’s not enough to be an expert. Unless of course, you want to be like everybody else. No, in order to really stand out, be considered a thought leader, create change and have clients lining up to work with you, you have to be an authority.
A true authority brand has the power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior. She changes people’s minds, sways their opinions and influences their thoughts and opinions. She’s a part of the conversation, and is often leading it.
Because of her tremendous clarity around who she is, who she serves, the value she offers and why she’s in business in the first place, she connects confidently and easily with her target market and engages them where they need it most. She is a true INFLUENCER.
in•flu•ence [in-floo-uh ns] – noun: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior and opinions of others.
In his book, Social Media 101 , author Chris Brogan talks about how Google comes to accept you as the Authority. Let’s take a look at Google’s top three measurements and compare them with “real-world” applications.
Inbound links from other sources – If someone is linking to your website, then you must have valuable information, especially if the person doing the linking is important, i.e. CNN, Oprah or The NY Times. When you offer something of value, people will not only seek you out, they will tell their friends about you. Word of Mouth has become Word of Mouse and is moving at the speed of light.
Outbound links to quality material – This helps to prove that you’re a lively presence on the Web. It also proves that you’re willing to give as much as you get. Recommend and promote others’ good work and you’ll be rewarded ten-fold.
Constantly updated content – Google values freshness over staleness. You’ve got to stay updated and current to offer something of value. It’s hard to be considered an authority when your website clearly declares, “I’m not home!”
At the end of the day, you’re doing business with people, not computers. You want to build relationships, not lists.
If you’re still relying on the degree hanging on your wall to bring in your clients, then you’re in for a rude awakening. To step out of the “expert” box and into the authority brand role, it’s imperative to connect, converse, engage and interact with your potential clients. When you are able to influence how people FEEL – when they hire you, work with you, learn from you, experience you – then and only then are you able to compel them in any way.
©Liz Dennery Sanders 2011