It took only two words to challenge those self-serving claims to authority, a forceful: “Says who?”
These days, instead of the schoolyard, we look to establish our authority in the conference room, the office, at sales meetings, on the phone and on the Web.
On top of making the case that we know our stuff, we also need to instill confidence that we’re trustworthy and can help people make good choices in areas they may find unfamiliar, confusing and often too technical.
The digital age provides easy access to terabytes of information, and a labyrinth of marketing channels – online and off – for anyone to claim authority in any particular field.
So here’s the question: Within this often-confusing marketplace of choices and voices, how can we get to be recognized as a trusted authority?
Essentially, there are two ways to do this. We can either establish our authority by tooting our own horn, or by leveraging the influence of people and organizations that are already regarded as authorities.
If they’re done right, both methods can effectively convey our expertise and build trust. Here are 5 different ways to establish yourself as a trusted expert.
Show them that you’re a player too – People feel confidence when they know your experience is similar to theirs. Being a savvy agent is one thing, but being a fellow cattle rancher is even better.“Our agent Trish Barker has 20 years’ experience insuring farm and crop risks, and raises beef cattle herself on her ranch.”
Leverage shared cohorts – Cohorts are groups of people that share common interests and experience. When you meet or call on members of a particular association, introduce yourself as a fellow member. Stress the commonality. “We’ve been members of the Land Improvement Contractors of America for 15 years, and go to all the conventions.”
Benefit from the halo effect of known experts – Include information from trusted sources on your website, and in your blog posts, emails and newsletters. Timely, pertinent articles and quotes from respected third party sources give people confidence that the information you’re providing is highly reliable. This confidence will carry over to the other things you say.
Identify yourself by the company you keep – Become a contributor to well-known and trusted media in your space. If the audience is large enough you can write a regular column for the local paper, or guest on popular local radio talk show or community cable TV show. Online, get involved by contributing guest posts to recognized blogs like the Huffington Post and others that your prospects are likely to frequent. Then reference those contributions in your other marketing communications.
Answer questions and contribute to online forums – Answering questions on LinkedIn and similar sites gives you the chance to engage helpfully with other businesspeople. While your LinkedIn connections may not be with local prospects, you can recount those posts in your other marketing communications, and benefit by associating yourself with LI’s huge following. Insurance industry sites like insurancelibrary.com provide an especially relevant platform for agents to answer visitors’ questions and share expertise – an ideal way to establish yours and build your authority.