Imagine that you can choose between two accountants. They both run a small company offering a reliable service for a reasonable fee. However, the way they present themselves and engage with their clients is completely different.
One of the accountants offers a website with useful tips and advice, recommendations of clients and a personal profile of the people working for him. He gives talks at business events and writes a monthly column for an online business platform. He and his personnel are always quick in responding to questions of clients on social media. And his monthly newsletters are full of relevant information. The other accountant just does a good job, but does not really take an effort in showing what he and his team are capable of.
What’s the difference?
Although they are both an expert in their field, the accountant described in the example above demonstrates his expertise and is not afraid to show his ‘human-side’ in his day-to-day business and external communication. This is the reason that he has more customers and that he is often invited for events and happenings. He is not only an expert. He is an expert who is known for his expertise and people around him like to do business with him. He is what I call a ‘likeable expert’.
Compare this to your own organization. I assume that your company consists of a team of knowledgeable and passionate professionals too. How do you make your organization be seen and perceived as a company that people would like to do business with? Or, in other words, how can you communicate in such a way that people will perceive you as a likeable expert in your field of business?
I have created a list with 13 communication activities that you can carry out in order to become known as a likeable expert. If you are a small or medium-sized organization you will probably not be able to ‘tick all boxes’, simply because you will not have enough time to do it all. You don’t have to. However, the list will help you to generate new ideas for your communication towards clients and potential clients and will help you to create more visibility and impact.
13 ways to become known as a likeable expert
The positive aspect of networking is the face-to-face contact you have with people. It enables you to find out if there is a business and personal match between you and the other person. Showing interest in the person you are talking to is the most important aspect of networking. Asking the right questions will not only help the other person to reflect on what he or she is working on, it also is a way to show that you know what you are talking about.
2. Give & share.
According to Jochem Klijn, author of the book Social Meaning (in Dutch), giving and sharing is a positive way to build a network of ambassadors; people who promote your company without even asking them to do so. The more you give, the more you will get in return. Don’t ask yourself what’s in it for me, ask yourself ‘how can I help’? Offer strategy sessions for free, give away tips and advice via email, link people from your network to each other, etc.
3. Be a guest speaker at events and conferences.
Identify platforms and organizations that offer events that are attended by your target group. Ask yourself how your content could fit in the theme of the event and propose your topic to the organizers.
4. Start a blog.
In blogs you can share your knowledge and expertise. If you blog consistently, you will keep on attracting visitors to your website. In addition, a blog builds credibility and trust; people get to know you through your blogs. It is important to pay attention to the promotion of your blog posts. Publish them for example on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and include a link to your blogs in your email signature. Have you already started a blog? Then the Ultimate Blogging Checklist might be helpful to download.
5. Write guest blogs or columns.
What media does your target group read? You could select one or two media and find out if you can become a guest blogger or contribute a column or article. The advantage of guest blogging is that you will reach people whom you might not reach via the other channels you are using. It will help you to expand your visibility amongst a new group of potential customers. Most websites and media will allow you to mention your website and Twitter address. This can help you to get more visitors to your website and get new followers.
6. Send your network a yearly business update.
Send an update to your business and personal network in which you share what your organization has been working on and has achieved. Try to provide a balanced overview. Don’t pretend that it was all smooth sailing if it wasn’t. December is a good month to distribute an update like this (so don’t forget to include this in your to-do-list for November!).
7. Organize your own network event.
Invite people in your network for a special network evening and ask them to bring another person along. You could either give a short talk yourself or invite a guest speaker. This will give people something to talk about during the evening.
8. Stay in touch with your network on a regular basis.
Your network is an important source for new clients. However, not everyone might need your services when you need new clients. Therefore stay in touch with your network so you know what they are busy with and to ensure that you stay top-of-mind. Again, don’t feel ashamed to call people every 3 to 4 months. You can easily make the conversations inspiring for both parties, as long as you are genuinely interested in the other person and are not afraid to give away some free advice.
9. Create strategic alliances.
Which people and organizations offer a service that complements what you do? How can you cooperate and benefit from each other’s network? Organize something together or interview each other in your newsletter or blog.
10. Include recommendations of clients on your website and LinkedIn profile.
Some people say that recommendations are not very convincing as they are always positive. I agree that most people will not post negative recommendations on their LinkedIn profile, however, the words people choose to describe you and your way of working offer valuable information to others. Once you have 5 to 6 recommendations, people can sense what kind of person you are.
11. Have a clear presence on social media, and post updates on a regular basis.
Having a profile on various social media platforms is not enough if you want people to notice you. This requires a pro-active approach. Share relevant content you come across online, write and share blog posts in which you give your point of view and respond to what other people share on social media.
12. Create newsletters.
Publish your own newsletter (once or twice a month) in which you share your blogs and other news. Newsletters are a great tool to educate, inform and inspire your clients and potential clients. People who sign up for your newsletter can be seen as fans who like to hear what you have to say. In your newsletter you could also include special offers or information about upcoming events.
13. Build up relationships with journalists who write about your field of business.
Journalists have less time to write an article compared to 10 years ago. Your story and opinions might be what they need for their next article. Identify the most important media you would like to be featured in and look up the name of editors who are covering stories on your topic. Connect with them on LinkedIn and try to build up a relationship. Find out what their challenges are and how your knowledge can help them to build their story. Follow them on Twitter to find out what they are talking about.
It is definitely not one single thing will make you a likeable expert. In today’s noisy world, there’s no short cut in making yourself and your company visible in your field of business. Consistency and patience are key. And it is advisable to have a strategy and plan to keep you focussed!
It is a combination of actions that will determine your success.
How will you increase your visibility and expert status in 2015? What will your strategy be? Feel free to contact me to discuss how to build a strategy that suits your company and objectives (firstname.lastname@example.org).