By Saralyn Ciolek, Internet Marketing Consultant
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
— John Quincy Adams
Leaders are made, not born. Certain character traits and tendencies will make it easier for some to rise to the top of any industry, but these attributes alone - without insight, intent or action – are not enough to maintain a position of influence. True leaders are those that have carefully tended to their work, their vision and their relationships over time while strategically marketing their message in a way that is both authentic and effective.
The good news is that anyone—whether world-class professional or working-class hero—has the ability to become a leader if they are willing to invest in themselves. Take the time to do these 7 things, and your expertise and influence will be widely recognized.
1. Begin With Purpose
Take a moment to think back on when you started your career. What was it that inspired you to choose your profession? What mark did you want to leave on the world?
Now take a moment to think about your present day. What about your work gives you the most fulfillment? How are you making a difference?
Clearly identifying why you do what you do is the first step to setting yourself apart. As Simon Sinek so profoundly states in his book Start with Why and the TEDx talk that inspired it, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Work without purpose is just a job. But when you infuse your work with intent, you have a career. When you stay true to your purpose, you operate from a position of authenticity and service, making your product or service much more valuable, memorable and easy to market.
2. Do the Work
There are no substitutes for experience and knowledge, period. Expertise is born out of a desire to continue learning and practicing your craft, day in and day out.
Stay up-to-date on new technologies, procedures, and advancements in your industry, and embrace the role of perpetual student. No one has all the answers, but true leaders know where to find the answers, and are not ashamed to seek them out. Additionally, leaders are adept at simplifying technical knowledge for the lay consumer to understand, translating their expertise into actionable insight for potential clients.
3. Develop a Brand
It is invaluable to spend time clearly defining your brand, even as a sole proprietor or small practice. Branding is more than designing a logo. Developing a strong brand identity includes clearly outlining your:
- target audience
- your promise or message
- your core values and strengths
- your persona
- your voice and tone
- your mission
Take time to note what differentiates you from your competition and reflect on the response from your customers, tweaking as necessary to further refine your unique proposition. Branding is an ongoing and evolving process that provides the foundation for effective marketing, as well as a clear path to bring your vision to life.
4. Build a Network
True leaders are surrounded by a community of ambassadors that are quick to sing their praises. In today’s day and age, especially, maintaining a good reputation through word of mouth is critical.
For the most impact, nurture your relationships with three specific groups: referring colleagues, reviewing customers, and industry influencers.
Take the time to get out and about in your work community. Establish relationships with professionals whose work complements your own, and work together to build your customer bases. For instance, a surgeon specializing in breast reconstruction may partner with an oncologist or general surgeon. Or an attorney who focuses on personal injury may partner with a clinic dedicated to brain injury rehabilitation.
Maintain an active LinkedIn profile. And never burn bridges: be sure to maintain good rapport when partnership or employment ends. You never know when your paths will cross again.
Besides the fact that good customer service maintains your brand’s integrity, online reviews are weighted more heavily than they’ve ever been for SEO purposes. Here’s a quote straight from the mouth of Google: “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”
When you encounter a less-than-stellar customer review—because it happens to the best of us—be sure to respond accordingly. As noted by Google, “Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.”
Furthermore, with so much of today’s consumer research done online, your brand’s first impression is likely what other people are saying about you on the Internet. An April 2017 article from smallbiztrends.com states that good reviews produce, on average, an 18 percent increase in sales, with customers likely spending 31% more. On the other hand, four or more bad reviews can deter up to 70% of a business’s potential customers; 22% of consumers won’t buy after reading just one negative review.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, start taking note of the influencers in that space, both locally and nationally.
What makes an influencer, you ask? Someone who is active in purchasing goods or services from your industry, who is vocal when reviewing said goods and services, whose opinion is trusted and who has substantial exposure, whether in social media followers, media presence or name recognition.
The buy-in from just one or two strong influencers can catapult your practice to new heights, making you a go-to authority in your industry.
5. Say or Do Something New
Sumner Redstone said, “If you never venture beyond what you know… you’ve spawned your own limitations.” At the risk of stating the obvious, let it be said: you cannot be a leader without being the first to act.
Leaders are innovators – people who challenge the status quo by thinking outside the box. Leaders encourage others to broaden their perspectives by doing so themselves. Challenge yourself to take risks, to conduct research, to find a new solution to an old problem.
If you are an attorney, be ready to respond quickly to the latest mass tort. If you are a doctor, consider offering a new procedure, or volunteer your services in a place that badly needs them. To be a leader, you must – quite literally – lead the way.
And then write about it. Develop a blog that is more than just promotional offers or explanations of the services you provide. High-quality, unique content offers new, relevant information, engages the reader, builds trust and brand recognition, and drives traffic to your website, ultimately improving your conversion rate and establishing your expertise.
6. Maximize Your Exposure
You approach your work with purpose and passion. You are delivering top-notch service. You have a blog and great reviews. But still: Your work is only as impactful as the expanse of your reach.
To truly make a difference in your industry, you must send your work out into the world. To truly lead and serve others, you have a responsibility to share your knowledge.
This can happen in any number of ways. First, never underestimate the power of social media. A thoughtfully executed social media presence is an extension of your brand identity, a conduit of your vision, a means of engagement with your community and a platform for your message.
Second, consider your role in mentoring the next generation, whether by speaking at conferences, teaching in a formal setting or taking younger colleagues under your wing.
Finally, engage with the media. Many television talk shows actively seeks experts in their local community to regularly present segments on industry-specific topics. If you enjoy writing,, submitting to local and national publications – print and digital – can boost your exposure. At Page 1 Solutions, our ongoing marketing efforts include finding media opportunities for our clients. Content Specialist Adam Rowan states:
“We monitor press queries on behalf of our legal and medical clients. If we find questions from reporters matching their expertise, we work with the client to submit a compelling pitch answering the question. Ideally, this will result in the client being quoted, which is a good opportunity to generate exposure and earn links back to their practice website. ”
7. Stay Informed and Stay Relevant
When striving to be a leader in your field, there’s no such thing as having too much information. Actively engage with the other leaders in your industry by subscribing to their email newsletters, reading their publications and following them on social media. Stay up-to-date on the relevant news and events impacting your industry and respond by adapting your business and marketing plan accordingly. Keep your website current, responsive and user-friendly. Embrace new technology and the consumer habits of younger generations, as they hold the key to your longevity.
After all, no one gets anywhere by digging their feet in the mud.
Being a leader is not only an opportunity to maximize your own success, but to inspire the success of others and leave your mark on your industry for generations to come. We at Page 1 Solutions are dedicated to helping you rise to the top of your industry through custom digital marketing strategies that differentiate you from your competition and provide a platform for your brand’s unique message.
Call us today at 800-368-9910 to speak to an experienced digital marketing consultant.