6 Ways to Become an Industry Leader

The global marketplace is competitive, and to stay on top of your game in the eyes of your clients and customers, you need to set yourself apart. One way to do that is to become an industry leader, someone with the skills, knowledge and authority to gain the trust not only of your customers and clients, but of your peers as well. That type of positioning can take some time, but the rewards are well worth it. Here’s what to do.

6 Ways to Become an Industry Leader

  1. Join a trade association. A group of like-minded peers and experts can help you make important connections that enable your business to grow, and trade associations often offer valuable training, guides, and other educational and informational materials, as well as up-to-the-minute news and reports that can help you compete more effectively. Plus, association meetings and online forums are a great way to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.
  2. Be social. Your clients and your competitors are online, so you should be too. Hit up social media sites - start a Facebook page, be active on Twitter, and find ways to connect and be present on other sites your customers are most likely to use. Join LinkedIn and participate in discussions in your industry or check out what your vendors are doing. The more you’re seen - and “heard” - the more opportunities you have to be remembered and to build your own authority.
  3. Start a blog. Blogging isn’t so much about sales as it is about building trust over time. With a blog, you can go into details about issues your customers care about, which could be a great opportunity to show your customers you understand and care about their needs. Blogging isn’t for immediate results; you need to be in it for the long haul. But in the end, it can be one of the most powerful tools for building your brand.
  4. Adopt a cause. Whether you sponsor a local sports team, regional scholarship or national campaign, when you give back to others, you take a huge leap toward customer relations. It's also an opportunity to promote your business in a more charitable light, rather than focusing solely on sales opportunities. Plus, being active in a cause is a good way to get news coverage for your business.
  5. Be a speaker. Hone your speaking skills. Volunteer to speak at a local event - maybe a business club, civic organization or a community group composed of your target customers. Getting out and speaking is a great way to represent your brand, and simply getting in front of a group and giving a speech has a certain amount of "cred" that sets you up as an authority right from the start. No speaking opportunities near you? Host a workshop, or better yet, host a webinar to reach people no matter where they are.
  6. Meet the press. Know your local media outlets and learn how to write a good press release. When you host a workshop or webinar, offer a new product or service, sponsor a scholarship or do anything else that’s newsworthy, write up a press release and send it along to your local paper or TV or radio stations. Contacting reporters or editors directly can be really effective, but don’t overwhelm them with releases. Choose the ones you think will have the most impact and generate the most interest before contacting the press. Making contact with reporters means you’ll be among the first to be contacted if a news story develops in your industry.

Be involved, keep learning and above all, share your knowledge. A generous and helpful attitude can work wonders in building your reputation as a leader in your industry, and it can also go a long way toward building trust among your clients, your community and your peers.

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