Being viewed as an authority in your field is essential in helping achieve your business goals. It makes you visible by raising your expertise to become a center of prestige. Many small businesses continue to face challenges in getting their word out there to command respect and gain brand recognition. There are various ways one can get to this position of command.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners the tips they would recommend on positioning yourself as an authority.
#1- Remember What It Was Like to Be a Beginner
Authority is a byproduct of clarity. We’ve all had that math teacher who is really smart but has a hard time reaching his students. They struggle to learn because he speaks to them with vocabulary that only math experts understand. The teacher has been an expert for a long time. He has forgotten the learning curve that beginners have to go through so there is a lack of clarity in his teaching. However, if you do the hard work of remembering what it was like to be a beginner, you can come up with creative solutions that bring clarity to your message. Here’s a quick example from my business, SI Certs. We sell online courses teaching people how to read building plans. We also ship building plans to our students. Building plans are complex multi-page documents so we needed a simple way to teach the skill without confusing our customers. After some thinking and brainstorming, we realized what we had to do. We took our most important teaching notes and added them right on the plans. Our students really liked them and they told us how much they learned from them. None of our competitors had done this so we received great word-of-mouth. As a result, we became an authority in the industry.
Thanks to Gabriel Kramer, SI Certs!
#2- Showcase your past successes
The idea of positioning oneself as an authority is both a necessity, as well as what seems like an easy proposition, but it is complicated. You can’t embellish your understanding of a topic or your experience. Yet, the entrepreneur or businessperson also has to be steadfast in their confidence from the day the started their business. The old saying fake it until you make it has truth to it in some areas, but I’d advocate for building experience and knowledge on the desired topic, service or area of business first. Once that experience is established, then one can go on to work on bigger projects. At this point, the best advice I can give is to showcase those past successes. Your body of work, history, or success is the best way to be an expert. Build it as fast as you can, but build it through a string of success stories.
Thanks to Christopher W. Sinclair, The Anthem Group!
#3- Arm yourself with data and speak at any conference in your area
I would recommend for those looking to position themselves as an authority to arm themselves with data to strengthen your argument and expertise. I’m often doing this because the Fairygodboss platform generates a ton of proprietary data and information about what women experience at work. I also think it’s important to put yourself out there as a public speaker and thought leader. Try to speak at any and all conferences in your area, and also get yourself published as a columnist or guest columnist for well-know publications that will help cement your authority in your given field.
Thanks to Georgene Huang, Fairygodboss!
#4- Position yourself as an expert
The only long-term, authentic and surefire way to position yourself as an expert, is to be one! This will involve months, or probably years of immersion and effort in the space. Read and study everything that there is to know on the topic,get involved in groups, associations and societies. Finally, don’t be shy about what your accomplishing and look for opportunities to appear in industry events and forums.
Thanks to Jason Lavis, Out of the Box Innovations!
#5- Promote your personal brand
One way to begin to build your personal brand is through writing articles, blogging, interviewing any and all things related to your niche. But there is much more involved in promoting your personal brand. You need a business blog to establish yourself as an expert and an authority in your field of expertise. As you develop your brand, you can add a “portfolio” to your website – which will include articles you have written; speaking engagements you may have had that you can turn into a podcast, etc.
Thanks to Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care!
#6- Pitch your advice and expertise
Positioning yourself as an authority is not easy, but one tool that has worked well for me is Help a Reporter Out (HARO). HARO is an online service that allows individuals to pitch their advice and expertise for inclusion in relevant articles written by bloggers and journalists. It empowers small businesses operating on limited budgets that cannot typically hire a PR agency. If you can successfully pitch your input, many times journalist will quote you as a source in their articles. HARO can help you be seen as an expert by having the opportunity to share your knowledge with media sources that cover your industry.
Thanks to Bob Ellis, Bavarian Coo Coo Clocks!
#7- Do much writing and public speaking
I started a global marketing firm 16 years ago and my best tips are to do as much writing and public speaking as you can, it sets you up as a Thought Leader in your industry and helps your Google ranking as well. When prospective customers and clients check you out online they will be impressed with by your quotes and references, I will shorten the sales cycle.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#8- Servant leadership
I have found the best way to position myself as an authority with not only my employees, but also my clients, is through servant leadership. When people trust that you will be there for them, they will naturally allow you to lead them. I have heard it said before that relationships are like bank accounts, you have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals, and I follow this principle in business, as well as in my personal life. I’ll give and give until I need to take, and then when I ask for something, people are happy to help me in any way they can, to the letter, because of what I have already done for them. I seek out very specific needs to meet, and problems to fix for people that will make their lives easier. I balance this with requiring exacting standards and adherence to guidelines, and as a result, no one mistakes my kindness for weakness. In my employee selection process, I look for people I know I can connect with, and edit out those that try to take advantage of their position or my generosity. This has created a workplace environment of security and confidence, and by providing this example for my team, my managers and key employees have learned to lead in this same way. This creates longevity. Our average employee tenure is over 8 years, and this longevity translates to a tremendous depth of knowledge that can’t be replicated. As a result, our deliverables are extremely high quality, truly unrivaled in our industry.
Thanks to Courtney Folk, Textile Restorations!
#9- Being reliable and consistent
I believe in leading by example. It is not my aim to present myself as authority. This positioning happened naturally as a result of my business efforts and clear vision. If you are a budding entrepreneur, be sure to find your niche and become the expert in your field. You can do that by being reliable and consistent in what you do and say. You can’t be a fake. You have to remain who you are. Don’t be shy about it when you eventually become an expert.
Thanks to Rune Sovndahl, Fantastic Services!
#10- Create better content
The ROI from becoming an authority comes in months or years, not weeks, so it’s important to take a long-view on all your authority efforts. The #1 secret to building authority in any niche? It’s simple: create better content.. Look at all of the ranking blog posts for a particular keyword, and write an article that delivers higher, more in-depth value to the reader. Rinse, and repeat. When you deliver high quality over a sustained period of time, people will take notice.
Thanks to Scott Marquart, Stringjoy Guitar Strings!
#11- Do guest posting
My best tip is to do guest posting. This allows you to network with bloggers, industry experts and publishers, while showing people within your industry, and even potential clients and customers, that you walk the walk. The key: don’t guest post just anywhere—or on a friend’s blog that gets no traffic or engagement. Seek out the websites that you like to read, along with popular websites in your industry, or the various industries which you work. Pitch them a unique idea that uses your experience as the backbone of the article, giving it an angle they couldn’t get from anyone else. I’ve been doing this for many years and am now seeing consulting leads come from the efforts. I also often hear from clients that they’re impressed with my breadth of work online, making my brand as a content consultant much more valuable.
Thanks to Jessica Thiefels!
#12- Become a speaker in your area of specialty
As an entrepreneur the best way for positioning yourself as an authority in your specialized area is to become a speaker on your specialized area of focus. Through participation in conferences, events, or seminars, entrepreneurs have the ability to share their knowledge and meet others that are interested in the field of study. An ability to speak in front of others helps those interested in the topic will also be an amazing opportunity at networking and sharing ideas with others. I suggest entrepreneurs find a public relations company to help them find speaking engagements and to book opportunities. It is a great way to become an authority and you can also make income from speaking.
Thanks to Ray McKenzie, Red Beach Advisors!
#13- Several ways
Five of my ten books have won awards, starting with Grassroots Marketing in 2000 and continuing through my 10th, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, in 2016. In the non-book side, I’ve been inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame and (as a speaker) the International Platform Association, and was the first business in the world to achieve Green America’s Gold-leveI certification. Also, I get lots of endorsements—for Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, the list of more than 50 includes testimonials from Seth Godin and Jack Canfield, guest essays by Cynthia Kersey of Unstoppable and Frances Moore Lappé of Diet for a Small Planet, as well as co-authorship with Guerrilla Marketing founder Jay Conrad Levinson—and I have tons from clients as well. I have my own Wikipedia page at and I’ve done a TEDx talk. And the single biggest thing that built my business was getting happy clients to share their experience on discussion lists, which led to many more clients and referrals.
Thanks to Shel Horowitz, Going Beyond Sustainability!
#14- Actually be one
The best advice I have to people who are looking to position themselves as an authority in their space is to *actually be one.* The quality of your content is different (stronger) when you have a powerful command of your topic or industry versus someone who is striving to be look upon as one. Assuming you *are* an authority, here are 3 tactical things you do to ensure your readers recognize that: Add media logos to your website: These should indicate where you’ve been published (don’t say featured in if you haven’t been, but if you’ve guest posted you or been quoted more than one line, you can absolutely use the logo). If your’e a speaker, you can use logos from companies and events you’ve spoken at. Use client testimonials – there’s nothing like social proof to cement your positioning as someone who knows what they’re talking about. Putting them strategically in the right places on your site is important too (About Page, for example) If thought leaders or other authorities in your space have recommended or vouched for you, add those quotes as well! Tout your credentials *- A lot of authorities hate this because it feels like bragging but if you have a graduate degree or spent 15 years at a Fortune 100 or broke a world record – it should be clear and obvious on your site. It helps people trust you and believe you are what you say you are. In general, the most powerful way to prove you’re an authority is what I call, *show, don’t tell.* Amateurs say this is what I am! Pro’s just are.
Thanks to Margo Aaron, That Seems Important!
#15- Three ways
There are a few major considerations when positioning yourself as an authority. Above all else; you must be authentic. People can sense when someone is not being authentic and it will damage your personal brand equity. It will also make you appear must less trustworthy. If your brand is untrustworthy or weak, it is much harder to position. The second is that your messaging must be congruent with your brand identity. What you say, must align with who you are. Third, leverage the power of social proof. There is a psychological disposition to trust the opinions of others; especially people we trust. This is why big brands use celebrity endorsements. Social proof doesn’t require big names; simply having endorsements of people can be powerful also.
Thanks to Dr. Ari Zelmanow
#16- Four steps
It’s easy to know who the authorities are in different fields and on different topics. But remember these leaders weren’t always highly sought after for their thinking. If you want to increase the odds of becoming an authority, follow these four steps. Practice them because some may take you out of your comfort zone. Actively commit to being part of a conversation in written content or in group settings. Don’t avoid difficult or controversial issues. Be a contrarian. Have a different point of view to differentiate you from the crowd. Speak in sound bytes. Don’t use jargon. Use metaphors or tell stories to describe something so your audience can relate. Move a story forward. Don’t just comment on today’s story. Talk about what you think will happen next. Make predictions. Practice these points and you will quickly become at authority who is invited speak at industry conferences and conduct media interviews.
Thanks to Dan Sondhelm, Sondhelm Partners!
#17- A number of suggestions
They say fake it til you make it. Well I tend to disagree, based on experience. Yeah there are things you can exaggerate if you’re a smaller company, or a one-man operated business. However, you still need to have the skills and experience in order to make it. However, a few suggestions really gave me a name within the industry: Speaking at industry events: I can’t emphasize what this does to you, in terms of authority, your connections and friendships within the industry, and the business you will get as a result. The first speaking gig is the hardest to land. It helps to attend these events and get to know some of the organizers so you can establish yourself. Then go for the pitch. Writing a book on the topic I’m focused on: I’m an authority in conversion optimization. But nothing gave me that authority like when I co-authored the book on the topic and got it published by a well-respected name, O’Reilly. It made a big difference and really launched my company. Landing a big whale: When I tell people that I worked with eBay, 3M, the Special Olympics, Target, and Ericsson, it’s a lot different then when I name smaller businesses. And when other whales come a long, knowing I’ve worked with large companies makes all the difference to them. It’s the first whale, like your first conference that’s the hardest. And some of these larger whales come after they’ve seen or heard me present at an industry event.
Thank to Ayat Shukairy, Invesp!
#18- Several ways
Leverage public relations (PR) to build thought leadership. Third party validation (receiving mentions and coverage from the media) is highly effective at generating awareness and credibility advertising cannot provide. PR builds brands, advertising defends it. I use PR techniques to generate awareness with local, business and trade press. I also speak globally and contribute to industry publications regularly. The effect has been noticeable: Significant brand awareness locally and nationally as a major player in the digital marketing space. Streamlining recruiting efforts. Support inbound marketing (lead generation) on a national and international scale without any meaningful advertising Don’t hire a PR agency. Hire a PR consultant to develop your messaging, PR plan and media list, then hire an affordable college graduate with a Marketing/Journalism/Communication degree to implement the plan. It’s affordable and leverages the best of both worlds. To identify opportunities for awareness within your industry, subscribe to HARO, monitor and pitch relevant opportunities. Identify, connect with and engage local, business and trade media. Send press releases on a monthly or quarterly basis to maintain awareness within your industry.
Thanks to Kent Lewis, Anvil Media!
#19- Join in a Twitter chat
A fun way to position yourself as an authority within a specific field is to join in a Twitter chat. Do a little research to find a weekly chat in your industry that you can participate in and answer the questions asked with your expert commentary. You can also use these chats as a way to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and make valuable connections.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation!
#20- Offer Better Information
Building authority is all about providing the most relevant information to the questions that your customers are asking. If you want to really position yourself as an authority, offer the best expert information you can, and post it everywhere you can. Write informational blog articles, answer questions on industry related forums, and communicate with others in related social groups. As you begin answering more questions with unique but accurate information, you will slowly start becoming the expert authority to customers within your industry. People buy from brands they can trust, and becoming an authority is the easiest way to build customer’s trust.
Thank to Matt Collins, Loans Now!