How to position yourself online: be passionate and know your niche
If you want to use social media to help you position yourself, you’ve got to answer a fundamental question first:
What do you want to be known for?
It sounds like a simple enough question but it’s amazing how many professionals don’t have a clear answer.
You can’t be all things to all people, so the first step is to define your niche – what issues or things are you going to help people with and who are these people? For example, a divorce lawyer might position themselves as a divorce lawyer for women or a childs rights’ advocate. An accountant may position themselves as a virtual CFO…the opportunities are endless.
One thing that HAS to be there though is passion.
You’ve GOT to be passionate about what you do. So much about postioning yourself via social networks has to do with content creation and curation that you’ll likely find it difficult to sustain activity over the long haul if it’s not something you really love.
It’ll fall down your priority list.
You’ll miss a week.
And before you know it all your hard work will have been for nothing.
If you’re worried about being pigeon-holed by going too niche, then don’t be. It doesn’t prevent you from doing other types of work, it just means you’re not in direct competition with the other thousands of ‘corporate lawyers’ or ‘accountants’ out there. Since I’ve positioned myself in the social media (and more specifically, LinkedIn) for professionals space, I’ve generated more work in areas outside of social media than when I was actively pursuing that work. It’s actually helped me to grow my business.
Once you’ve identified what you want to be known for and who you want to appeal to, you’ve got two challenges:
1. How to position yourself
A key way to position yourself is via content marketing. It’s nothing new and is likely something you’ve been doing throughout your career – sharing helpful content with your clients and prospects. It could be via a seminar, a Whitepaper, a news-alert, video, a blog – these are all examples of content.Social networks enable you to do a number of things:
- find inspiration for your own content
- find great content published by others which your contacts will value and that helps to position you in your niche market
- get input into your content
- create and publish your own content (e.g. via LinkedIn’s publishing platform or via group discussions)
- share content with those in your network, in groups and/or communities, those who follow you and more widely (If you’re sharing your blog posts in forums like LinkedIn and Google+ make sure the group/community allows it, it’s relevant and helpful to the group/community members and you don’t simply share a link – write an intro asking a question or setting out the key message. Look to have conversations with others because “it’s NOT all about you”)
Launch points for creating good content:
- What problems do those you wish to engage with face?
- What questions do they regularly ask you? (make a note in meetings so that you don’t forget)
- What do they need to know about a tax change or an upcoming piece of legislation?
- What topics or issues would they want to be educated on or kept informed about (if you don’t know, ask them)
- What topics are trending in your area? What are people talking about?
By regularly sharing helpful content via your social networks you’ll start to become associated with it.
It’s a bit like subliminal advertising – keep repeating ‘John – tax’ over and over, people will eventually get the message that John deals with tax issues.
That’s why doing a little and often is so important and why you need to be in it for the long haul. If you get slack you’ll undo so much of the good work you’ve done as you’ll no longer be top of mind.
Which leads onto the next point…
2. How to get found
You can’t simply rely on your website to generate work.
The internet is becoming increasingly fragmented and you’ll want to take advantage of a number of channelsto make it easier for people to find you.
Google loves fresh content which is one reason why blogs are such a great tool. Because each post focuses on a specific topic, people searching for that topic may find you (whereas they probably wouldn’t if you left it up to a static website).
If you bring social networks into the mix and use them strategically and alongside everything else you’re already doing, you’ll likely find you stay top of mind with your existing contacts (and they’ll have more of an idea about what you do) and begin to build relationships with more of your ideal prospects.
Email campaigns are also an excellent way to deliver content and educate your clients and subscribers about your offering. As with other tactics, remember to deliver what your clients want to know and learn about. Solve their problems with your content and, in doing so, position yourself as an expert in your area. You can use social media to drive people to sign up for your email lists using a valuable free offer, a great landing page, and an autoresponder campaign.
Online positioning is a huge area with many tactics available to you. I’ve touched on some of the ways to position yourself successfully and would love to hear from you in terms of what you have found effective.
- be passionate
- know your niche
- know how to get found
- be consistent
- educate and assist