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.
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)