originally appeared on Forbes December 2016
As an entrepreneur, establishing expert authority in an industry is essential. The success of this ongoing endeavor will provide a powerful platform to on which to build all other business development initiatives.
For entrepreneurs and business owners who are having trouble establishing authority positioning and developing leadership influence in business, there are key mindsets and strategies to consider.
Developing The Correct Skill Set
A cursory glance at the marketing landscape may leave you believing that the highest authority positioning belongs to the individuals with the most social media savvy; however, in the real world of business, respect comes from another set of skills entirely. According to Harvard University, this skill set should include the following:
• Comprehensive technical skills. The No. 1 way in which business owners generate respect is through understanding and generating solutions through technology. Not only will this improve the productivity of the business, but it also garners a significant amount of unassailable value in that some technologies have become the primary organizers of critical data. Knowing how to collect data is one thing; actionable interpretation of that data is quite another. Successful business owners are the ones who have created successful action plans based upon relevant interpretations of data. This is important to credibility and influence because, with the right data, decisions can be made confidently.
• Nimble approach to development. Entrepreneurs should have a thirst for change. When others are unsure of what to do, the owner must maintain his or her vision. This constancy is a rare commodity, and people, especially potential partners in a supply chain, are naturally attracted to it. Conversely, when the opportunity to change presents itself, there must be a protocol in place to allow for it to be integrated into the business.
• Influence without position. No matter what position is held in the organization, the freedom to allow key players to exercise influence inside and outside of the organization must exist. Success will be evident internally with cutting edge progress toward corporate goals; externally, the firm’s target audience will see their expertise as a strong competitive advantage.
Becoming A Systems Builder
In the modern world of digital commerce, the savvy entrepreneur can take care of many of the administrative aspects of a position through automated solutions. Today’s business owners and entrepreneurs must utilize automated systems building in order to focus the majority of their energies on customer service and business processes across the organization, according to Stanford Business research findings.
Entrepreneurs who know how to build systems and scale can create authority positioning with their client base more quickly, because they have more time to focus on delivering added value to their clients and customers as well as their internal team. In short, spending less time behind the scenes tinkering with the tech and more time up front in public facing positions, such as being an educator and advocate for the success of your sphere of influence, creates trust, which establishes authority more quickly.
Becoming A Known Expert
Google chairman Eric Schmidt confirmed that the search engine prioritizes pages that are linked to well-known online profiles. People tend to prioritize leadership in the same fashion, taking the word of an individual who has proven his or her mettle in a field with more gravitas. Think about it — the world has become so fast-paced that we do not have the luxury of time to research viable solutions to the end we may prefer. Our prospects feel the same way, and they tend to narrow their choices to the ones deemed trustworthy and respected. While this may be from a personal referral, many times their decision is derived from an online search. The solutions presented are filtered by credibility, and information that delivered from an educational and authoritative approach is well-received.
For example, I recently had a client tell me that they picked up a nice piece of new business because their prospect was impressed by seeing my client’s media mentions and interviews on a business show I delivered for them. The prospect certainly saw many other options and competitors to choose from, but they felt confident choosing a credible source.
Entrepreneurs with ground-level credentials and verifiable evidence of expert authority are usually the ones performing with the highest efficiency. These business owners can quickly expand their reach through a blog, for example. Gary Vaynerchuk is a good example of an entrepreneur who is well-known throughout social media, and uses his authority positioning to generate more business. When done the right way, entrepreneurs can also benefit from the increased visibility they receive from Google for their prolific social media presence.
So, what can you do to establish your authority positioning? Begin by evaluating your true competitive advantage and how you solve vital problems for your target audience. Once this is clarified for you and your organization, you can then begin to map out a strategy that becomes the voice for the solution. Over time and with consistent effort, you will find that, as momentum builds, you will begin developing what I call “Authority Positioning Assets” to aggregate into your “Authority Positioning Portfolio™.” This is the collection of your published educational content, including but not limited to blog posts, articles in your industry’s publications, podcast or radio show interviews, or even your published book.
When you shift your mindset to a giving and serving approach, you will see the impact from your newfound aut.