As an entrepreneur, you’re always on the lookout for ways to expand your business. Often, rather than investing more time and money into traditional marketing efforts, you can achieve growth by investing in yourself. Expand your sphere of influence, the philosophy goes, and the clients will find you.
Sounds simple enough, right? You’re good at what you do and you have a lot of wisdom to share. So, how do you translate that into influence?
7 Ways to Expand Your Sphere of Influence
To share your wisdom and business acumen, you must first position yourself as an expert. You can use several strategies to present your expertise:
- Join organizations in your field and participate in meetings and events. As an insider, you’ll learn what’s most important to your peers, learn new things and build your network.
- Create (and maintain!) social media sites where you can brand yourself and share helpful information. Consider using one of the social media management tools to schedule posts — set aside thirty minutes and schedule informative posts mixed with fun facts. You’ll find you can schedule a month’s worth of posts in a short amount of time. You can then spend your time on social media responding to connections and reaching out to your tribe.
- Maintain a blog to display your expertise and share encouragement.
- Provide a service to your peers (and future clients) by creating a monthly industry news column that you can distribute digitally or on a blog. Once news of your column is out, newsmakers and people with industry news will seek you out to report on issues.
- Sign up with HARO (Help a Reporter Out). HARO is an online service that allows you to be an expert source for journalists in need.
- Apply to be a speaker at industry conferences and seminars to get your name and business in front of others. Word of mouth is the best advertisement, and your peers are likely to share their conference/seminar experience with others — and your name will come up.
- Develop products for peers and for potential clients.
Putting These to the Test: One Photographer’s Experience
Professional photographer Sandy Puc’ has been in the business for more than two decades. She’s become known for her passion, artistic ability and skilled marketing techniques. Her path to becoming an industry expert began with joining an industry organization.
“One of the first things I did for my career was to join Professional Photographers of America (PPA),” says Sandy. “They provided me with education, and after I gained some expertise, their conference was where I first spoke and taught.” She has been a past PPA board member and holds the prestigious titles of Print Master and Explorer of Light from Canon USA.
At this stage in her career, Sandy has found developing products to be one of the most satisfying means of further expanding her own sphere of influence.
“I’ve always believed in giving back — to both my immediate community and my professional colleagues, so developing products for my peers was within my comfort zone,” she says. “My industry is a niche with specialized needs and problems. I identified those needs and issues, did some problem solving, and developed products to make life easier for others in my industry.”
Her first products were educational products for photographers. “Originally,” she says, “my products were how-to products: how to do photography, how to run a portrait studio, and eventually how to market. Taking pictures is one thing, but understanding how to run a business is important as well.”
She started with downloadable educational products, and evolved to an online educational resource, which is recorded teaching events that are updated weekly. This, she says, “allows me to continue to educate folks on a larger level.”
Sandy is not finished developing ongoing products. “The industry continues to evolve,”she points out, “so right now I’m looking at new marketing concepts that works for photography as it exists today. Some is a recycling of concepts, but I’m putting a new spin on them so people can recognize the value.”
Hands-on work is vital in the execution of developing products for your industry. “I’m not just a creator of products,” she says, “I’m a user of them as well. People appreciate that if a product has been successful for me, it will work for them too. I think that’s why I have such a strong following.”
According to Sandy, getting other influential people in your industry to use your products and offer an endorsement will help further expand your product’s sphere of influence. “Collecting testimonials are critical,” she says. “Positive feedback from others is more valuable than anything you can say about your own product.”
Believe in Your Own Expertise
Sandy encourages other entrepreneurs to go for it. “Do your research, follow your dreams,” she’s says. If you’re developing products, advocate for them with your actions. “If you believe in the product — and you’re a user of that product — potential clients will also believe in your product.”
Sandy realizes her success has come from a long and meaningful relationship with her industry, her peers, and her clients. “I have been in the industry for a long while, and people recognize my name and the work I’ve done,” she says. “I have become an advisor and mentor for many, so my brand is well known and trusted.”
Megan DiMaria is a communicator to the core. In her day job, she is a nonfiction writer, editor, copywriter, content creator and social media pro. For fun she writes novels, and she is the author of two traditionally published women’s fiction books. She loves to speak at writer’s events and give inspirational talks to women’s groups. Learn more at www.megandimaria.com.