Becoming an authority in your local area has many benefits. It can generate money, success and result in solid connections that you can use to build your business. Being a local authority promotes goodwill. In this article, I share both a negative and positive experience I’ve had with other businesses and how that affected their local authority both with me and those I talk to.
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A simple search will net you tons of articles online about how to become an authority in your field and how to become good at what you do. These are all helpful and legitimate. You want to become an authority in your field as much as you can. The problem is a lot of people now are trying to become authorities in their field and unless you have something rare and new that other people haven't figured out yet, it's hard to be the authority.
On LinkedIn, I have a few business coaches that follow me and that I follow back (I'm interviewing one of these coaches pretty soon that I find to be quite interesting). This brings to light a problem in becoming a local authority, however. On the Internet, there are a lot of people that are in the same field saying the same thing (such as business coaches). This can lend towards you viewing them as an authority, but no more than anyone else in their field.
Now let's say you're in a larger city like Seattle. In that larger city, you will find more competition, but you will have a radius around your business and home. In this radius you will have influence, which can morph and move so that you can become an authority in your field within your area.
One of the things that I found to be most beneficial for me in becoming a local authority is spending time engaging with and talking to people through podcasts. In fact, one of the reasons I started my podcast was to become an authority in my field. However, marketers starting podcasts is nothing new. My goal is not to have just another marketing podcast, but my hope is that the information that I'm sharing is helpful to business owners. I don't look at podcasts as just another lead generation tool. I want to generate leads, but it's more than that. It's about helping others, being a part of society and offering insight that would be useful to business owners.
Through the medium of podcasts, I can offer information that can help a lot of people and it takes me very little time. Podcasting is one way I try to become an authority, but that isn't the only benefit. Other benefits to my business is the podcast has had a trickle-down effect into my local area. Because of the Business Growth Podcast, I've been able to chat with people and listen to their needs, offering both paid for and free consulting.
If you want to become a local authority, you have to establish a network of good connections. Connecting with people allows them to trust you. Making connections is fundamental to people both trusting you and seeking you out, especially for the introverted business owner.
It's hard to be an introverted business owner. Introverts have to learn to be extroverted in order to succeed. Getting out there and making those connections is actually a friend-making exercise. It's more than just a client. It's more than just doing business. It's about a bond, ensuring that you meet your client's needs. That bond will also keep you honest when you're failing the client and it becomes necessary to ask them to move on.
If you are unable to meet the client's needs, it is vital to recognize the need to end the client relationship. Not ending the working relationship may lead people to think that you're a scammer without their best interest in mind. Integrity of your product will build your brand and increase your local authority. Acknowledging that you cannot resolve or make progress with a client's needs is all part of becoming an authority.
It's natural in business to have people check out your brand without committing to it. It's easy to write off these exchanges, but I've found it incredibly helpful to be open and available to these people. Making positive connections in these situations sometimes generates potential future clients, and sometimes it leads to those with a community voice recommending your brand. By being mindful of the connections you're making, you will guard against the following example of a negative connection.
While managing my previous occupation, I called the company that constructed the building and installed the HVAC system. The system never climatized throughout the building correctly. They sent someone out that "fixed" the issue. Still in need of resolution to the problem, I called back a few months later. Another repairman. Another "fix." After the fourth call, I was put through to management. The manager explained that he no longer wanted us as customers. Due to the issue consistently not being resolved, we still hadn’t paid the previous two invoices. He stated he was forgiving these invoices and he no longer wanted to work with us.
Understanding this is one-sided, let's just say I was the wrong party and the manager had every right to terminate our business endeavors. The manager did not take into account that I would later launch my own company that would at some point have need of HVAC work. Should the need arise, I would not use nor recommend this HVAC company.
The point is that this interaction lost this company potential current and future business as well as trust. Being a local authority is about more than doing the job well; it's about community and being helpful.
Instead of communicating efficiently and with integrity, this company eliminated it's connection with the prospect of future business. It was necessary to bring other HVAC companies in to make progress. The result was that the building itself proved inefficient for accommodating an HVAC system. Had the original company communicated well, we could have kept and matured a beneficial connection.
When I moved to Washington, there was one hardware store, Stanwood Hardware. Over the years, the business landscape of my town has changed providing more hardware options and stores. However, I purchase 95% of my hardware needs from Stanwood Hardware.
It's not that Stanwood Hardware has the cheapest prices. They are usually more expensive than the big chain stores. The positive experiences I have had with this business outweighs the cheaper cost in going elsewhere.
For example, I once locked my keys in the car and an team member at the store helped me get my car unlocked. He grabbed a Slim Jim and went to work. I wasn't giving him paid business, yet this guy spent extra time for no extra pay to get me back into my car. I remember and reference this experience to others recommending Stanwood Hardware above the rest.
I visited the store recently because my door in my new office is an auto-latching door, which meant I had to let people in from the inside. I went to Stanwood Hardware looking for a solution. The same team member who helped me get into my car years ago (and probably doesn't even remember me); started offering solutions to provide a "fix" for the problem. With the help of another team member's suggestion, they fixed my problem. I walked in the hardware store looking for a solution. The solution that was presented to me sent me out the door with a smile and having paid nothing.
They weren't just helpful. They were extremely helpful. Because of this, I won't shop elsewhere. They have built local authority that is trustworthy and longstanding.
The difference between a positive and negative experience is that a positive experience builds your local authority while negative experiences diminish it. It's important to understand the difference between my HVAC experience and my experience with Stanwood Hardware here and take to heart the importance of connections and goodwill.
If you want to become a local authority so that people want to do business with you, take these needed steps: be selfless with your business maintaining your integrity, be selfless with your time honoring your client's and connections needs, and as much as possible sincerely care about others.