Authority is defined as the power to influence others. When someone is an authority it’s assumed that they have extensive or specialized knowledge on a subject. They’re an expert. And here’s the truly important thing on authority – people buy from those that they consider to be experts. We buy from companies and people that we believe to be authorities in their industry.
In the next few blog posts I’ll be discussing how you can create and grow your position as an authority and build your “street cred” for your business/brand.
In order to be an expert you have to both look and sound like an expert. That means presenting yourself professionally. No one is going to give you authority status unless you claim it and own it. Presenting yourself professionally is accomplished in a number of ways.
Make sure your social media posts are professional and business related. Even if you have a personal profile, you still want to maintain a professional image. It’s a small world and you can bet your business followers will find your personal page. Make sure to use professional language and don’t overshare. If you wouldn’t want a customer to know it, don’t share it.
Whether you’re responding to an email or talking on the phone, it’s important to use professional language. To be clear, that means no cursing, no slang, and taking it easy with jargon or tech speak. You want to make sure that whomever you’re communicating with understands what you’re saying. Now the exception to this is if you’ve made these things part of your brand. Some people are able to cleverly make the use of slang or profanity work for them, especially if they’ve built up their target audience who loves their realness but for the most part it’s best to keep it clean.
Any photo that you share, publish, or include in your marketing materials should portray you in the most professional light possible. You don’t necessarily have to be wearing a suit in your photos, but you should be dressed professionally.
Introduce yourself to people. Get to know who they are and what they’re about. Make connections.
Put yourself in situations where you can learn, grow, and meet new people. Take advantage of opportunities to present yourself professionally, to help others, and to grow your business.
Instead of spending your time telling people what you do and what you know, learn what they know. Ask them questions and uncover their problems. Once you know what they’re dealing with, you can then take steps to help them out and to be a problem solver. It may be as simple as connecting them with the right person, or offering your products or services.
Chances are you’re already doing many of these things and you’re conscientious about being professional and presenting yourself in the best light possible. However, most people can always use a little reminder because it makes you step back and consider your actions. Take a look at your communications and look for ways you might present yourself a little more professionally. How can you exude authority?
Next, we’ll take a look at the concept of transparency and authenticity as it relates to you personally. We’ll talk about being humble and honest and why those are both important factors to establish authority.
There are two types of authority figures. There are those that may hit it big for a while before their fame and fortune falters. They’re the shooting star authority figure. You can probably think of someone that you know who may have been a big deal in their industry for a short time but they lost favor after a while.
The other type of authority figure is someone who builds their authority over time and retains it. They are respected in their industry for decades.
There are many things that separate a shooting star from a steady and solid authority. Two of these differences are authenticity and transparency. The two words have been marketing buzzwords for the past year or two. What they mean, however, and what they provide will never go out of style.
In the case of establishing yourself as an authority figure in your niche, authenticity and transparency are virtues.
This means that you are 100 percent yourself. You don’t fake your personality or create a persona. You’re not someone different when you’re at work than you are when you’re home or in your personal life. This is important for many reasons. One reason is that it’s much easier to connect with someone if they’re being “real.” Fake people often seem awkward or uncomfortable and people generally pick up on that.
Additionally, authenticity is easier to maintain. If you create a persona you may not be able to maintain it for decades. Eventually you’re going to get tired of it or you’ll get found out. People will learn that you’re not who you make yourself out to be. When that happens, your credibility and authority will plummet.
Transparency means that you are honest about who you are and what you know. Transparent authority figures are okay with telling people when they don’t know the answer. They don’t need to know everything. However many industry authorities are passionate about their industry and will quickly dig up knowledge when they don’t know the answer.
Another component of being real, humble, and honest is that you’re able to brand your personality. If you’re a tax geek, for example, then you can embrace that personality characteristic and use it to connect with others who are interested in learning more about taxes or who may want your services. There are more benefits and opportunities when you embrace and share your real self rather than to make up a persona.
Being real is important to create and maintain authority. One time it may be difficult to be “real” is when you receive criticism. It’s difficult to hold your tongue and not react. However, that’s exactly what you have to do.
Next, we’ll take a look at how you can use criticism and negative feedback to actually help build your authority and turn it into something that’s positive.
Everyone receives criticism. Even the smartest, coolest, and most on-the-ball people in the world get negative feedback. In fact, if you don’t get any negative feedback or criticism then you’re not doing something right. Maybe you’re not taking big enough risks. At any rate, you can turn negative feedback into a positive with a few savvy steps.
Make sure that you know what people are saying about your brand. That means monitoring social media and setting up alerts so you know when people comment on your blog or on any guest blog posts.
Not all criticism deserves a response. Sometimes people just complain to have something to do. Some folks are looking for a fight. Don’t engage. However, if the comment is valid, interesting, or it’s an issue that can be resolved, take immediate action.
When someone makes a complaint or leaves negative feedback, you can immediately begin to change the situation by reaching out personally to them. Introduce yourself, empathize or apologize, and give them a next step to take. This next step may be to contact you personally or to offer a solution.
Put yourself in their shoes. If you keep the conversation public, for example on social media, then you can resolve the issue in front of your audience and the world. It’s an opportunity to be of service and to help someone out while building your authority and your brand.
Ask questions, invite comments, and ask people to share their story. Let your happy, and not so happy, customers provide you with opportunities to engage and to share and connect with a larger audience.
You won’t make everyone happy but you can take advantage of some complaints and negative feedback and showcase your professionalism and authority by solving their problem. Sometimes the best word of mouth comes from previously unhappy customers. Stay on top of your brand and respond as quickly as possible when it’s useful.
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