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Why do only certain people in your field rise to national prominence?

In every professional field and industry, certain individuals enjoy local and national prominence as experts. They’re the ones who attract all the media attention, are asked to deliver keynotes at major conferences, and seem to win the best clients. What is their secret sauce?

Hinge conducted a research project to understand these industry stars (whom we call Visible Experts®) and how they rose to prominence. We interviewed over 1,000 Visible Experts — and the buyers of their services — to determine exactly how they develop and market their brands as industry experts.

Our research revealed some interesting insights about individuals’ brands — and one of the most important concerned which personal branding tools these experts felt to have the greatest impact.

The findings are shown in Figure 1, rated on a scale of 1 (for the least impactful) to 10 (most impactful).

Figure 1. Total Impact of Personal Branding Tools

Personal Branding Tools

5 High-Level Takeaways

1.  Writing a book is an effective platform for demonstrating your expertise and building visibility. Chances are high that among the highest-profile experts in your field, most have authored at least one book.

2. Public speaking has a huge impact. The best-known experts speak often to prospective clients and industry peers, especially by addressing large groups at conferences and other industry events.

3. Websites – both those of the individual’s firm and their sites – rank high for impact. Not every Visible Expert has a personal website, though experts with the highest levels of visibility often do.

4.  Visible Experts tend to write often, producing blog posts, monthly columns, and articles.

5.  Because they publish educational – not promotional – content with consistency and frequency, they can derive a good amount of ROI from two techniques that are particularly challenging for many: email marketing and SEO.

The Most Essential Personal Branding Tools

Here are the 7 most impactful tools you need as part of your branding strategy:

1. Writing a Book

Whether written by yourself or a ghostwriter, a book addressing your area of expertise is a critical credibility builder. The book can be published traditionally, and can deliver instant credibility.

For more flexibility, you could choose to self-publish your book — meaning that you either set the price or give it away for free.

In either case, you also need to promote the book, since even name-brand publishers expect their authors to do the majority of the marketing.

Writing a book can be a heavy lift, however, so don’t feel as if it needs to be at the top of your to-do list.

2. Public Speaking

Talking about your area of expertise is another important platform for enhancing your reputation and personal brand. Listeners are predisposed to trust anyone addressing them from a podium, so just getting in front of them is half the battle.

3. Being Visible on a Website

If you are a member of a firm, your first area of focus should be your bio page. It should present include enough credentials to convince visitors that you truly know your stuff. Here are a few possible elements you might include:

  • Detailed personal bio
  • Past and current speaking events
  • Sample speaking videos
  • Areas of expertise and speaking topics
  • Links to published thought leadership
  • Education, Certifications, Affiliations

4. Using a Blog Platform

If you want to be seen as an expert, you should be blogging. It’s one of the easiest ways to share your wisdom quickly and widely — and begin attracting a loyal following.

For even greater impact, follow some basic search engine optimization (SEO) principles as you write your posts. Blogging can introduce you to prospective clients who will begin finding you through online searches on topics that matter to them.

Your blog posts can reside either on your firm’s website (where they can boost your SEO performance), or you can create a separate site for your posts.

5. Email Marketing

Where your blog works by introducing you to hordes of new people, email marketing works by turning many of those first-time readers into loyal followers — and hopefully, raving fans.

Include offers for valuable educational content (guides and whitepapers, for example) that readers can download, and you can entice a portion of your readers to opt into your mailing list.

Later, you can use that mailing list to provide your followers with a steady diet of free educational goodies, along with other offers to deepen their engagement with you.

6. Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tactics

If you think SEO doesn’t apply to your line of work, think again. Increasingly, organizations in every field use online searches to find and vet their service providers. But even more relevant, today’s business leaders, like nearly everyone else, instinctively turn to Google whenever they run into a difficult business problem.

Often, they start researching the problem and solutions themselves — well before they seek out professional help. In other situations, professionals use search engines to find their field’s thought leaders.

In any case, SEO is your connection to people who are intensely interested in problems that you happen to solve … almost none of whom you would have met otherwise.

7. Having a Media Kit

Experts are constantly asked for bios, credentials, and photos, so you should always have a media kit ready for them. Even better, include the materials upon your website bio page, where interested parties can find them at any time. Then, whenever a last-minute request comes in, you’ll be ready with a response.

Of course, this list is just the beginning. There are dozens of personal branding tools that can help you engage with your audience. For example, webinars (which are just an alternate platform for public speaking), video and web analytics, and SlideShare, to name a few.

When you see your branding strategy beginning to have an impact, you might want to try out some additional tools and techniques.

Achieving the status of your industry’s go-to expert is not the result of chance or a lucky break — rather, it’s the result of systematic, focused marketing.

I encourage you to begin using the strategies and tools described here … and good look on your ascent!

Written By
Elizabeth Harr is an accomplished entrepreneur and experienced executive with a background in strategic planning, management, communications, and alliance development. Elizabeth co-founded a Microsoft solutions provider company and grew it into a thriving organization that became known for its expertise in Microsoft customer relationship management.

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