The internet is an amazing place for launching a new business, reinventing your career, or expanding the growth of your existing offline business. Let’s face it, business has gone digital. You can work on your business and conduct business activities from anywhere, on any device, at any time with today’s tools, technologies, and networks.
To create and grow a sustainable digital business, first establish yourself as a person of influence.
Influencers focus on helping others. They are genuinely interested in helping other people become better at something they want to improve upon or master. Influencers are teachers. They clearly understand that by providing leadership and guidance, sharing valuable information, empowering others, and connecting others, business will ultimately come back to them.
Building online influence is based upon a giving mentality. It is a critical building block to success with your online business endeavors.
Influence Builds Credibility
There are so many opportunities to grow your online visibility, but it all starts with credibility. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have in your field, how smart you are, how good looking your are, or how great your advice is! If you don’t expand your online presence outside of an old and clunky website you built years ago, you will have ZERO credibility online.
Without digital credibility, it is very difficult to capture attention and market share. Furthermore, an ugly or outdated online presence can kill your credibility instantly.
Think of the internet as a wide open plot of land where you can stake your claim and build your unique brand (your home). Not only should you build your own online hub for showcasing your thought leadership (a blog), you also need to claim and develop your social media profiles. Social networks are the online bustling cities of today. This is where the people are, and where conversations are happening.
Strive to build a consistent presence across the social web with your branding and your message. Consistency can be very powerful for establishing credibility with your target markets.
By establishing a credible and professional online presence, you will put the foundation in place to position yourself as a person of influence.
Influence Cultivates Trust
These days, trust is hard to come by. It is as scarce as attention. If you want to build trust online, you also have to come from a place of influence. This means that you commit to publishing and sharing messages that provide guidance, information, insights, resources, and HELP to your target audience. Giving away your best ideas and openly sharing your lessons learned can be very effective. Thoroughly researching your topic and providing step-by-step guidance to others can also position you as a go-to resource.
In order to influence your network and build trust with them, you need to research and understand what their deepest concerns, problems, goals, and fears are. What answers can you provide and what problems can you help them solve?
Everyone is looking for a leader. We are inundated with useless information and thirsting for knowledge. If you want to be known as an influencer (and cultivate trust), give your target audience the knowledge they need to be better, to be more successful, and to avoid costly mistakes. The formula is truly that simple.
You will never make a sale if you don’t earn trust, and the best way to earn trust is to show up consistently and provide valuable insights to your network. In other words, be an influencer.
Influence Ignites Relationships
People love influencers. They tend to have celebrity status within and even outside of their network of online connections and followers. At conferences, the influencers fill the room during their speaking sessions.
When you position yourself as a person of influence with your branding and your thought leadership content, people in your target markets will WANT to connect with you. They will subscribe to your insights and consume your content. They will seek you out on social networks and invite you to connect. In fact, as an influencer, you will not have to work as hard to proactively grow your network over time because people will be consistently asking to connect with you.
I believe there is a tipping point here. If you dedicate yourself to being a person of influence by providing consistent value to your community, the growth of your network will eventually take on a life of it’s own.
The more your network grows, the more opportunities you have to build relationships through online and offline interactions. With credibility and trust already established, the path of someone going from a complete stranger to a loyal client is dramatically accelerated.
Everything you do online plants a seed for future relationships and business development opportunities. Not only that, by building online influence with existing clients, the modern referral process will take shape as your clients are motivated to share your message with their friends and colleagues!
Reverse Engineering Lead Generation
I talk to many professionals who want leads without building a foundation of influence first. In fact, the number one goal of any business professional is to find more qualified leads.
Buying lead lists, signing up for online client matchmaker sites, or paying for programs that promise to generate leads for you are mostly a waste of time and money. Why? You will not have earned the trust that you need to develop quality relationships with these methods. You won’t find the loyal clients who truly believe in you because they’ve researched you, learned about you, become interested in your thought leadership, and ultimately have come to trust you through your digital presence.
Reverse engineer the lead generation process and start with building a foundation of online credibility and trust first. This is the only sustainable path to successful client acquisition in the digital age.
Attract and Earn the right relationships for your business through building online influence.
If you grow your digital presence organically and with the right mindset, it will be a sustainable and systematic quality lead generation tool for you.
Sure, it takes more time to do it this way. You must be dedicated and persistent. Not everyone will have the drive, ability, or the patience to do it the right way. Many will take advantage of the access and transparency in the marketplace and abuse the privilege. They will use it as an opportunity to sell, push, and promote. Others will launch and give up because it’s too difficult or too much work.
Understand that right now, you have an unbelievable opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. We are just in the beginning phases of the personal media revolution, where anyone can build a successful business through their digital presence. This disruption in media has been effectively described as “The Great Horizontal“.
There are no limits as to what you can accomplish if you make influence the center of everything you do online. Building online influence is going to be critical to your career and your future if you want to be successful in a wired world.
What about you? Are you motivated to build online influence? Is this important to you?