The thing is, we all deal with that “fraud” feeling and wonder if we are qualified to give advice. But, take into account the amount of time, the experiences, the trial and errors, the failures, the successes, and the learning you’ve done in ANY subject or arena in your life – someone can benefit from hearing about that. It can be as big or as small as you’d like. Sure, I talk about branding and create branding for businesses, but if I really wanted to, I could talk about creating collages. I have a lot of experience in making collages, it's a hobby that I've had since before high school. I also have a great deal of experience in quickly completing Sudoku puzzles that I could give advice to newbies on. These things, these experiences, you can present them in a way that showcase you as someone valuable and you can help others overcome some sort of “tough spot” with your knowledge.
So, that being said, I compiled a few ways you can help to grow that authority and showcase your value easier.
This is essential. On any social media platform, in any email, and in any blog comment – be sure to answer any and all questions that are asked of you. Even if it’s a simple question that you might think is rhetorical or just out of politeness – answer it. Not only will that person appreciate it, but anyone else seeing the exchange or interaction will then start to see you as someone who knows his or her stuff (and is open to sharing it).
If you are streaming live, like in a webinar or on Periscope, DEFINITELY answer questions. The ability to talk about your area of expertise on the fly and be calm, cool, and collected is very impressive. I understand being a shy person and how questions can put you into that cold, nervous sweat automatically (especially live!) but think back to any public speaking lesson and do the following: stop, repeat the question, take a deep breath, and then answer. You are allowed to collect your thoughts. Sometimes I even have to take a sip of water. But then answer the question to the best of your ability.
In time you will start to notice the same questions popping up again and again. What I do in that situation is transform my answer into a blog post. Then, the next time someone asks a related or similar question, I have an entire blog post to think back on and pull information from. Even better, I can say “if you want to know more about this, head over to XYZ blog post – I wrote like 1,500 words about it! And there’s a workbook.” THAT will be impressive and authoritative. I've done this multiple times already - like for my ConvertKit blog post and my Squarespace blog post. Both of those exist because I got asked about it a bunch and wanted to point someone to a resource.
ADMIT SHORTCOMINGS (WITH A TWIST)
You might be wondering, “okay but what if I legitimately do not know the answer?” So, yeah, that’s a possibility. But there’s a way out of it that is honest, helpful, and still flattering. Here’s the situation: someone asks me, “What do you think about some really obscure branding fact/story/example?”
And I blank. For a second I think that this person is the worst person in the world for doing this to me. But I stop, take a sip of water, take a deep breath, and respond: “You know, I’m not familiar with that fact/story/example – I’ll have to get back to you about that. You know what I do like though? Some other fact/story/example.” Boom. So you admit your shortcoming and then you brag a little bit about what you do know.
This same technique works in situations when a client asks you for something you don’t offer or know how to do. “I’m so sorry! I don’t offer video editing, but my friend Blankity-Blank does. I’ll reach out to them for you and have them contact you. You know what would look great on your video though? This epic logo I just made you. I’ll create a sub-mark that could go in the bottom corner.” See? If you go back and watch all my #31BrandingScopes, no doubt you will see me do this at least once. I’m not perfect. You are not perfect. We cannot possibly know everything. So apologize when you don’t know, promise a solution/offer help, and re-emphasize what you are great at. People will appreciate that WAY more than you getting a flustered hot mess, lying, or just saying “I don’t know.”
I know. I’m consistent in telling y’all to be consistent. But be consistent. This is one of the most effective ways at growing that authority. Make your points, your practices, your business mottos, and models apparent and repeat them often. You know why we remember “Just Do It” from Nike? Because they say it. ALL. THE. TIME. They burn into our heads on every single thing they do. They are consistently telling us to “just do it.” On social media, on television, on the boxes the shoes come in. Everywhere. All the time.
Adopt and adapt these ideas to your own business. What do you want people to know you for? Is your focus on bringing joy and happiness into people’s lives? Okay. In everything that you do – make that evident. Make that so it’s clearly the focus and we can’t help but associate you and your business with being joyful.
Be consistent in your messaging, in your visuals, in your voice, in your attitude, in everywhere. People associate that steadfastness with someone who knows/believes/trusts their product or service. If you know and believe and trust in it, then I will start to as well. If you are constantly wavering on ideas and topics then how am I supposed to think you are someone to put my trust into?
GET SOCIAL PROOF
This one is a little bit harder than others, because it involves other people sharing your content or talking about you. But (!!!!) it’s so valuable to have good social proof circulating about you. I don’t have an exact formula for this, but I will share with you what I do/did. It’s not that groundbreaking…
I use social media.
I am constantly seeking out new blog posts or content to share with my audience. I retweet other people. I interact. I support. I say thank you. I am polite. All of the things we talked about last week with building trust – I do those things! Then lo and behold, people, my peers and my mentors, started to pay attention to me. They started to share my content too! And now? There’s social proof circulating saying that my blog posts are good content, my periscopes are good content, my work is good content, etc. So getting social proof actually isn’t the hardest thing in the world – as long as you are committing to putting out good content (which, uh, I’m assuming you are…!) and being interactive on social media.
INFUSE YOUR STORY + GROWTH
When you are trying to talk about how your product or service will improve something for someone, the best testimonial is your own. This can be for anything and doesn’t necessarily have to be like “I solved the world’s hardest problem so buy my solution!”
So whatever your evolution was to get you to the point that you felt confident to sell something, tell us. Be honest. Say how you were crappy and things were crappy and everything sucked for a while. THEN tell us how you fixed it. It could be: “I was bad at sewing. I was scared of the needle and also really struggled to sew in a straight line. But then I re-approached these areas of concern, created my own method, and now I make wedding gowns. Buy my 10-week guide that takes you from un-coordinated to the best in town!” It doesn’t have to BLOW YOUR MIND. It just has to be honest.
Think about yourself a few years ago. What were you struggling with? Where were you at mentally? Okay – what did you implement, do, or change that escalated your business and made you feel confident enough to sell your service or product? Let the people know! Your audience wants that story because they can see themselves in it. The fact that you came out on the other side, and are now more successful, is inspiring and a great testimonial.
GIVE INFORMATION AWAY
The key to this being something that grows your authority is simple: you got more where that came from. If I’m willing to write all these blog posts about branding your business and branding yourself and creating cohesive experiences, and so on, it’s fair to assume that if I charge you for something, it’s going to be EPIC.
There’s not a big secret or anything. Just share your knowledge. You know (or should know) enough about the area you want to specialize in that talking about it for hours excites you. You’ve always got new things, new topics, new ideas, etc. I write down lists all the time of new ideas or conversations I see online about branding or questions people ask me (or someone else). I research so that when the time comes for me to create a free product or write a blog post or hop on periscope, I’ve got the topics ready.
If you are worried you’re giving away too much, then do this: outline something you’d charge for. Outline your e-book or e-course or whatever that someone would give you their hard earned cash for – and then pull out 25-50% of that and offer it for free. Create it into a blog post series or a periscope series or a free opt-in. Give it away. Share your knowledge and your value and gain your authority. That way, when it comes time to charge for something, people already know you are legit and worth their investment.
I know words like authority and expert get slung around online all the time. At the end of the day, those words reach people and make people’s ears perk up, so it’s easy to use (or want to be considered one). I look at the word authority and instantly think “value.” I want to bring value into people’s lives and I want them to think that I am valuable asset to have around. Implementing some or all of these strategies should be approached with the mindset that first and foremost that you are bringing valuable content to the table and truly trying to improve someone else’s life or business with your skills, ability, or knowledge.