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5 Steps to Establishing Yourself as an Expert Online and Off

There’s a lot of talk in the marketing blogosphere about the importance of setting yourself apart from your competition–about how to be taken seriously, you must establish yourself as an expert in your field. And while that’s all well and good, no one ever really tells you how you’re supposed to establish yourself as an expert. What goes into becoming an “expert” and how do you know if you’re doing it right or you’re just spinning your wheels and getting no brand karma?

What should small business owners do to help brand themselves as authorities that users will trust?

Below are five tips:

1. Start Small: I’m sure there are a number of things you want to brand yourself and your company as being an expert on. However, start by picking one and building your empire from there. What is the one thing that your company does better than anyone else? Or what would you like to be known for doing better than anyone else even if you don’t right now? Become the go-to person for that. Once you get that under your belt, you can expand upon it and add a lot of related services.

2. Learn Everything You Can: Once you know what your area of expertise is, dedicate yourself to becoming the master of it. Read blogs and forums to stay up to date on the latest news, read discussions to understand the different pain points, read print magazines and offline materials to hear from even more sources. In order to be an expert on something, you need to be able to speak intelligently on it, and that means understanding it as thoroughly as you can.

3. Create a Plan for Sharing Your Knowledge: Through blogs and social media, small business owners are able to easily share their knowledge with others and display their expertise for everyone to see. But have a plan for how you’ll do that and use multiple formats. Maybe you’ll blog, offer webinars or speak at local events. Or perhaps you’ll host a meet up in your area and write articles for popular industry sites. Ideally, you should be doing a number of these things and sharing information in all the satellite communities where your audience hangs out. It’s not enough to simply share the content; you have to share it where people are going to notice and consume it.

4. Share Opinions, Even Difficult Ones: To really develop your standing as an industry expert, you need to be comfortable sharing your opinion on what’s going on in your niche. Use your unique point of view and your way of seeing things to share your passion with the people you’re trying to reach. It can be hard to put yourself out there and show your vulnerabilities, but you need to if you want people to able to relate to what you’re telling them. Share opinions on your blog, through social media, at local networking events, and anywhere else you can!

5. Live What You Preach: People want to see that you’re not only preaching best practices, that you’re also living them. Make sure you’re implementing the same things you’re telling everyone else to implement and that you’re not doing what you’ve told them not to do. If you’re trying to sell yourself as an authentic social media marketer, people are going to get upset pretty quick if you start sending out automated DMs or spamming them on Facebook.

Above are five tips I’d recommend to put yourself on the path to becoming an expert in your field. What did I miss? What traits or actions make someone stand out as an expert in your eyes?