Establish Authority by Creating Value

One of the best ways to build connections within the economic network is to be an authority – and since revenue often follows connections, this is a useful strategy to consider. How do you become an authority? I’ve run across a couple of suggestions recently.

First up – this from the JournaMarketing Blog (I’m not trying to pick on the guy, his recent posts are much better, and worth checking out):

Services like Friendfeed make it easy to pull together information from a lot of different sources. So if you’re looking for a way to become an authority in your field, find the 5-10 top sources in that field, and pull their feeds into one location — on your own website. You’ll earn the goodwill of those other sources by linking to their content. And you’ll gradually become the 1-stop shop for anyone looking for information in your field.

Compare that process to the one outlined by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in Trust Agents:

Say that you’re asked a question by e-mail about a specialty of yours… You could just respond by e-mail, but you don’t. Instead, you write about it on your blog. You point the person who made the original inquiry to what you wrote, so taht person gets what he or she wants; but now, anyone else can see it as well. People who arrive via Google by searching for similar information can visit and post comments weeks, even months, later. Your blog post, which used to offer answers to typical questions asked by a few people, has now become a resource

Imagine that you do this 500 times. Over time, you’ve probably been asked 500 questions about your specialty; suppose you had answered all of them on your blog. These 500 posts now make up a pretty hefty set of resources, with a lot of insider information and tips, and you’re heping a fair number of people. As you do so, you’re starting to become known for your expertise.

So, our choice: establish your authority by creating value for people, or do it by appearing to create value. Which do you think will work better? Which person are you most likely to believe? Which takes the most work?

Aggregating by itself does not create value – this is a common fallacy doing the rounds these days. To create value, you have to aggregate, filter and connect information. In the Trust Agents example, you are not just aggregating the stuff that you know. You are filtering it so that it addresses specific problems that people have, and you are connecting up ideas to help solve those problems. And you are also connecting your solutions to people, actively through e-mail and telling people about your blog, and more passively through search engine visits.

The difference, of course, is that it takes a lot more effort to create 500 good quality blog posts. It will probably take more than a year, or even longer. And even then, you’re only “starting to become known” as an expert. But that’s what it takes to establish genuine authority. You have to put in the hours – there’s just no way around it. Of course, the payoffs (both emotional and financial) to being a genuine authority are generally higher as well.

These ideas apply whether you are building a personal brand, or whether you are creating an innovative business model. You need all three skills to creat value. You have to be able to aggregate, filter and connect to establish authority by creating value.

(Photo from flickr/Wessex Archaeology under a Creative Commons License)

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

7 thoughts on “Establish Authority by Creating Value

  1. hi, tim!

    your post raises some interesting questions. justin knownacki calls aggregators “information curators”. he says that “curation is sexy these days”, but making sense of the information being selected is what is crucial for generating value.

    it is a question of managing infotention, because at one point we must stop browsing while we process and analyze the information we gather.

    you seem to be an example of a person who has been doing this consistently and effectively.



  2. Thanks Renata! I’ve not paid much attention to the writing on curation, and I probably should. Not enough available attention I guess!

    You’re right though, about how ciritcal it is that we stop browsing at some point so that we can synthesise – this is where the value comes from.

  3. Hi Tim,

    I see your point about aggregation, and agree with you to a point.

    I think it’s a matter of degrees. You can tell from my other posts (I think) that I’m all in favor of writing longer pieces and adding analysis to help readers figure out complicated issues.

    But I do think there is legitimate value in aggregating. The more crowded the Web gets, the more value we find in curation. Some of the most valuable blog posts I read are lists of 3-5 links from bloggers I trust.

    My advice for people who are new to “new media” is that they should bite off what they can. The post you pointed to was meant as advice for someone who might feel a little overwhelmed of writing fresh content several times a week. I’d definitely like to see people graduate beyond aggregation, but I think it’s a good way to start.

    Thanks for checking out my blog, by the way. Even when you disagree!

  4. Thanks for the comment David! It definitely comes through that you are in favour of writing longer pieces – that’s exactly why I tried to point people to your more recent posts, which I think are very good.

    I agree with you about using aggregation to help navigate the web – the way that I’ve been talking about it here though, your curating idea is definitely adding filtering to aggregation, which increases value.

    The main reason that I used that older post is that it got mentioned 2 or 3 times in my twitter stream last week (so some people obviously like it!), and I was just struck by the contrast between it and the Brogan & Smith piece. Thanks for being so gracious about it. I’ve talked enough about journalism here that I’m sure you can find an ill-informed comment or two to pick apart if you want revenge. :-)

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