A friend of mine, who became an industry expert, told me once how her small business grew expediently when she started speaking in front of a group of people. Many attendees would follow her as she was leaving the event to ask questions and request an appointment with her. What did she do differently? She showcased her expertise by speaking about a subject she knew well (hormonal health and treatment) to the right audience.
You may be thinking that you own a small business such as a janitorial, landscaping, or a construction company and how could this apply to you? It is the same concept. Let’s say you own a janitorial business and you want to distinguish yourself from the other businesses in the same industry. You can write articles or give speeches on areas in which you have learned as you are running your business. For example, you can talk about how you use clean environmental products. You can discuss how office owners can make their offices healthier and why certain products are toxic to employees. Show them how it benefits them to hire your janitorial service.
Often, small business owners think they need a degree, or no one will be interested in what they say. As an entrepreneur, you don’t need 30 years of experience or a certificate to give a talk or write a book. You only need to learn a particular subject well to write or teach it to someone else.
What do you know from running your small business that others could learn from you?
Here are five steps on how you can become an expert:
While working at Intuit, I discovered Learn-Teach-Learn. You learn a skill, teach it to someone else, and then get feedback to refine your message. First, you start by learning the skill. You may learn it from experiences you gained doing something, or a webinar you attended. Then, you teach that message to someone else. Finally, you get their feedback about how to improve your message.
For example, if you are a small construction company who’s had success in either networking or partnering with other businesses, what advice would you give to a fellow business owner? What things should they not do? Or if you own a painting company, record a video using YouTube on the best paint to use for the exterior of your house. Get feedback from others about what works and what doesn’t. What did they like about it and what could you do to improve?
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Lisa Sasevich, who is a motivational speaker and the queen of conversions, says public speaking is a skill that you can learn, and master with practice. In her post Why Every New Entrepreneur Should Start Speaking she says, “One reason you want to do public speaking is to propel growth because one of the quickest and best ways to grow your business quickly is to speak to as many potential customers as possible. By speaking you can turn audience members into customers and into referrals for other speaking engagements where you can turn more audience members into more customers and more referrals”.
If you are like me, a natural introvert, you may fear or don’t like public speaking. The best cure is to sign up for a speech class or a group to help you overcome your fears. A great resource is Toastmasters where you can join a local chapter as a member with an affordable price. You can practice public speaking in a safe environment on a regular basis where everyone feels the same way you do. Only with regular practice will you overcome your fear of public speaking.
Writing content means you can write for your own blog, guest post for others, or submit your work to an industry magazine. In his book Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi talks about the story of Marcus Sheridan, a CEO of a pool and spa business. Marcus became the leader in information about fiberglass pools for people who are interested in buying pools.
In late 2009, the business was in trouble. Homeowners were not eager to buy fiberglass pools during the Great Recession. Marcus’s company thought they may have to close the business. Instead, they turned the business around in 2 years. They sold more fiberglass pools than any other fiberglass installer in the country and increased sales to more than $5 million.
How did Marcus achieve such success? Marcus wrote down every question a customer asked him and answered it on his blog. He shared his knowledge using content. From social media shares to search engine results the business sales grew to the point where companies were calling Marcus all over the world to install pools.
You may think to yourself that you are not a writer. This is an easy fix. You can either write down your thoughts and have someone edit and re-write your work. You could also hire a writer and ask them to write your content with specific information to put in the article. Hiring writers is not expensive. You can use an online site such as Upwork to find freelance writers. Ensure you request writing samples from those bidding and price competitively to find a good writer.
Become Featured as an Expert
A great way to establish yourself as an expert is by being featured as a guest on a show or publication. Podcasts have gained a lot of popularity the past several years, where many podcasts interview subject matter experts on the show. Other options are your local newspapers and radio shows to get your name out. HARO (help a reporter out) is another great resource to check out. It’s a website where journalists or writers are looking for experts for information on a particular story that they are writing about.
If you want to be featured in a national or local magazine or newspaper you should create a list of writers or editors to reach out to. You should become familiar with their work. Then you should send a message via twitter or other means to thank them for their work and give them feedback. After establishing a relationship, you can pitch to them your idea or product and be featured.
Public relations agencies have a list of news writers and reporters. They send email pitches for their clients to show they are experts. For example, if you know something which others may want to know about, you could send an email pitch to the reporters in your area. Ensure you pitch a story not your business. It isn’t about advertising your business; it is about you becoming a subject matter expert. If your story sounds interesting, you may even find yourself on your local TV station or newspaper.
Once you learn a new skill and gain experience, it is rewarding to share that knowledge with others. Sharing your knowledge helps people grow and be successful. One way to achieve this is to volunteer as a mentor by asking your local Chamber of Commerce or association if they have any opportunities for mentorship.
Another way is to ask if you can add value when meeting someone new. When I go to network events and meet someone new, I’ll ask them, how can I help you? I notice immediately how the person’s eyes light up and relax. By bringing value to others, you will not just help them, but you will grow personally too.
Mentoring also helps you gain leadership skills. You will push yourself to gain the mentee’s respect and improve your own skills. I know from my personal experience mentors have had a huge impact on me personally and professionally. If a mentor had an impact on your life try to return that favor back.
Final Thoughts on Becoming an Expert
There are many online groups you can join now to help you spread your message. For example, if you are a landscaper, there are many gardening groups you can join. There are people who ask questions about their gardens all the time. Can you help answer some of those questions? By becoming an expert and sharing your knowledge, you are boosting your revenue as well as growing your business name.
Consider going to local meetups in your area. You can either be the giver or receiver of knowledge. Also, enjoy learning from others and meeting people who are interesting. You may even find another small business owner where you can cross-promote your products.
Becoming an expert in your field isn’t hard, but it does take time and effort. People invest in others who are honest and approachable. Furthermore, you should ensure you gain and keep their trust. Learning and partnering with others can help you increase your brand and your knowledge. Once you start joining groups, networking, and writing content about your subject, you may find it easier to give speeches and tell others about what you learned.