Recently I gave a talk on how to position yourself as an expert on LinkedIn to a business audience in the lovely City of Bath. I started by asking how many people in the audience considered themselves experts? Three lonely hands went up. I then reworded the question and asked, “Who here considers they have expertise that their customers value?” Almost everyone in the room put their hand up.
Maybe it’s a British thing. Most of us feel uncomfortable calling ourselves experts but that is precisely the reason customers come to us because we have knowledge and expertise that they don’t. Whether or not you feel comfortable with the word, positioning yourself as an expert is an incredibly effective way of marketing yourself and your business. And if you sell to other businesses then LinkedIn is the place to “be known for what you know”.
Consider the benefits for your business:
- Higher profile in your chosen markets
- More and better opportunities
- Lower marketing costs
- Lower cost of sale
- Better margins
Positioning yourself as an expert is probably the single best marketing investment you can make.
When you build a reputation as the got to person for your particular skills then instead of chasing business people start to seek you out.
5 Practical steps to promote yourself as an expert
One of the first ports of call a buyer will make to check out your expertise is LinkedIn. Let’s look at the steps that will help you to position yourself and your business as a source of expertise on LinkedIn.
- Create a strong personal brand
There are several ways a potential buyer may come to your profile – as a result of a search, a recommendation, seeing your content, or just a casual visit. When they arrive your aim is to convince them you are the go to person for this product or service.
Pay particular attention to the top of your profile. Your photo is the initial visual hook. Do you look professional and approachable? Have you added a custom image which makes you stand out and reinforces your brand? Underneath your name is the professional headline, this defaults to your job title but is a great opportunity to position yourself and your expertise. It is your written hook.
The other key feature is the summary. This is where you can expand on your expertise, give examples of what you do, describe the type of customer you are looking for, add a testimonial. We want the viewer to recognise themselves and feel comfortable taking the next step to contact you.
On the mobile and desktop, the summary field has now been collapsed into two lines. It’s very important therefore to think about how to start your summary – only the first 200 characters (on the desktop) and 60 characters (on mobile) are visible to the viewer.
LinkedIn has two social proof features – endorsements and recommendations. Customers will expect to be able to read glowing references for an expert.
- Build a broad AND relevant network
Experts achieve recognition by writing books or talking at conferences but also by NETWORKING. A broad and relevant network is a crucial tool for building your reputation. The bigger your network the bigger your reach. One of the best ways to expose your expertise is to share valuable content, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to build a custom audience to consume and share this.
- Expose your expertise with original content
As an expert, you have valuable knowledge that your customers want. Giving this knowledge away in small chunks through articles and posts is one of the best ways to build your reputation. At first, this seems counter-intuitive, why will people use you if they can glean your expertise for free? Strangely the opposite is true.
Ask people who have written successful books about how to do stuff. Of course, there will be some people who just read the book but there will be plenty of others who get in touch because of the author’s superior knowledge. As a business coach, Peter Quintana, said to me recently no-one wants to pay for someone who is “simply competent”.
My advice, therefore, is to publish and be damned.
- Build and nurture a support network
You can be one of the most knowledgeable people ever in your field but if no-one knows about you there are never going to be queues outside your door. One of the most effective ways to spread the word is to build a network of people who like and share your content. Usually, this happens organically. You start to notice people who are regularly liking, commenting on, or sharing your posts. Say thank you show appreciation, where appropriate share their content too.
It’s likely that some of this network will be your peers. For example, I am linked to an informal network of LinkedIn coaches all around the world. We regularly share each other’s content.
By creating this supporter network or fanbase, your content gets far greater exposure than you could achieve through your own efforts alone.
- Engage with your audience
If your content is good it will attract potential customers. LinkedIn notifies us when someone is engaging with our posts, be alert and ready to get involved, without delay. One of my connections, Felix Spender, a conflict management specialists, published an article on LinkedIn about Brexit which attracted thousands of views and over a hundred comments. He quickly engaged with the people who were commenting, responding thoughtfully and respectfully to all the comments. As a result, he was invited to London to meet with the cabinet office, he won a major new contract, and crucially his personal authority received a massive boost.
Some people will respond to your content by sending you a connection request. This is another great opportunity to open a conversation. I always thanks people for their invitation then ask if there was anything that prompted them to reach out to me. This regularly results in a sales opportunity as people explain how they would like to learn to use LinkedIn more effectively.
Buyers want YOUR expertise now
No business has all the expertise it needs to make it thrive. Every business from time to time needs to consult or buy in knowledge from suppliers be that an accountant, an IT consultant, or an office cleaning company. Businesses use outside expertise to:
- Make better decisions
- Save time and money
- Avoid costly mistakes
- Innovate and stay ahead of the competition
- Be more efficient and profitable
If you can offer your customers one or more of these benefits then I would suggest this is based on knowledge that you have that the customer does not. It’s time to start exposing this expertise on LinkedIn to be known for what you know more widely.