When you start in business for yourself you may not feel very confident about your skills at running a business. But what you’ll feel confident about is how well you know your area of expertise or products.
That's important because it means you can create your expert status easily.
Here are some ideas on how to use your expert knowledge to promote your business.
1. Offer your knowledge whenever you network
If you attend many networking events you know that you’re likely to go home with a pocket full of business cards. (Tip for networking: Wear a jacket with two pockets. Keep your cards in one and use the other for the cards you receive.)
Which cards stick out in your mind? The ones where you make a real connection, or the ones which are different? How about choosing something that will be so different and useful to those who receive it that they’ll remember you?
Write a short article – under 250 words – with tips as an introduction to what you do. You have three choices then:
1. Take the articles ready photocopied and hand them out at the event.
2. Give out a card with a web page where they can download your article.
3. Offer to email them the article.
This strategy sends out 3 messaages. First that you’re comfortable writing. Second that you know what you’re talking about. Third that you’re generous with passing on information.
2. Make connections that will have people coming to you for information
Have some pieces written on different aspects of your business that you can offer to people in the media immediately. Perhaps to your local paper, trade journal or community news.
As soon as people in the media know you can write something interesting and can supply it at a moments notice, they’re more likely to use you. Looking forward you can suggest a column of advice on your topic that will be of genuine interest to your readers.
3. Be prepared to be generous with what you know
It’s very tempting when you’re new in business to hold to your chest your particular skills – in case someone steals your ideas or products. But offering something free before people ask for anything is a way to stimulate the practice of Reciprocity. (for a more in-depth look at Reciprocity I recommend Robert Cialdini’s book on Influence.).
You may think this is a risky strategy and of course you have to use some judgement about what you can share or not. But I’m a believer in sharing and I know from my own experience that you receive back more than you give out. It may not come back in the same way but come back it will.
Remember that many who might be able to benefit from your advice and knowledge may not be in the position to pay for high value items like consulting. Give them a way in to you that will build a long term relationship. They could end up becoming a new, very profitable client when they grow their business.