How to become an Authority and Influencer: Wasabi Ventures Academy Part 2/6

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I hope everyone enjoyed my last post on 'Idea Brainstorming' as we explored ways to come up with startup ideas and what ideas are worth pursuing.

Today we're discussing how to become an authority and influencer. 

So imagine this, you have an amazing startup. It’s got a catchy name, you have the right team in place (I hope), the product is fully functional (this is kind of important) and you’re starting to gain customers or users.

But, one thing is missing. You aren’t really getting the attention you wanted…the buzz you anticipated. Trust me, it's something every entrepreneur has faced in their life. 

One of the hardest things that a startup founder struggles with is getting attention for their venture.  Like many of you, I definitely struggled with this at the beginning of my startup career. However, I’m here to tell you that it is definitely possible to turn that around. And here is how:

Nothing gets more attention than being an authority figure in the vertical or sector that you are attacking. This article is meant to serve as a practical guide to building credibility by creating compelling content and engaging with the community.  

It will cover everything from education to social media and the ways that they can be used in the startup environment. Learning how to be an authority will help you in your job, your startup and your life by enabling you to be an influencer.

What makes someone an authority?

Authority is about content and credibility.

Think about it. The world of information is based on two components. Producers of content and consumers of content. Most of the world of information is consumed: 90% whereas 10% of information is produced. Strive to be a producer. Over time, the production of your content combined with your experiences, relationships, networks, and achievements will help grow your credibility and thus progressively building you into becoming an authority figure.

 Content + Credibility = Authority

Take a second and think about it. We naturally decide what information to trust based on both factors. Name your favorite portals to obtain news or content. Recount your favorite blogs. Recollect the Facebook or Twitter friends you will always take an additional second to check out. More often times than not, you'll find that the people or portals you decide to listen to observe are always the same people.  You naturally do this, we all naturally do this because we trust and enjoy their content. 

  • You build credibility over time, based on your actions
  • Increasingly, your content is judged on its own merits
  • If you keep generating good content, you build credibility

James Altucher is an example of a true influencer as a prolific contributing writer on TechCrunch. Paul Graham is yet another example as his posts almost always tops Hacker News. These two guys are powerhouses. But when you think deeper they are sharks swimming in a pool of fish or “nobodies” – basically all the other contributing writers whose posts and articles you read but haven’t heard of.

The fact we’d like to present to you is that through practice and continuous content, you can get there too.

So now you’re probably thinking: Wow this is great but how do I get started? People like James has founded numerous companies and published several books, how do I even begin? I don’t have the right experience.

The beauty is: No experience is necessary.

You just need to start. And here are some ways to begin.

  • Write a roundup of rapidly changing topics
  • Boil down a complex topic to easily digestible bullets
  • Write a “Beginner’s Guide To…”
  • Interview someone from the space

Example: If you’ve been doing research on a topic, such as say Bitcoin, write an article about it on what you’ve learned.

Creating compelling content

The first step in creating compelling content is knowing your audience, and what works for them. Think about the things you like and what you’ll be writing about. And then, take a step back and think about the type of people who will be reading and viewing your content. Think about how they think, their behaviors, their careers, their lifestyles. Start writing all of this out so you can internalize in your head who your true audience is.

Then start developing a feel for the conversation.

Regularly read articles from active blogs, news sources, and online magazines that are relative to your industry or vertical of information.

Practice makes perfect. Continue to post. Post early, and post often.

You might be thinking, yeah but I’m not that great. I’m not a professional. What I say in response is, you don’t have to be.  The only thing that matters is that you recognize that you have good taste and a vision.

Just a few months ago I was having similar thoughts before I really took writing more seriously. During that time, I was trying to improve my writing abilities as well as working with creative content tools such as Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. However, I continued to feel frustrated that I couldn’t reach the caliber of work that “professionals” can achieve.  My friend, movie director, phenomenal designer, and Co-founder of Air Media Network, John Fitch took me aside one day and said, don’t worry about it. You have taste; continue to produce work and content, and it will naturally come to you. Next thing I know he pulls up a video from Ira Glass, one of the world’s greatest storytellers.

This video beautifully illustrates the journey of everyone basically doing creative work, just continue to produce lots of content.

Develop a feel for the conversation.

Read up on other blogs, online magazines, and news portals to assess and internalize the flow and feel of the conversation. 

Let Search and Social elements work for you .

Search and Social elements fundamentally changed the way information spreads and how we process it. Ten to twenty years ago you had to hire a PR agency and spend $10,000 to $20,000 to disseminate content and gain a following. Now a lot of it you can do yourself just from continuous and organic compelling content. So how do you do that? Use:

Search: Make something people are looking for

Create relevant, useful content (“How To”)

Social: Make something people will want to share

Curating sharable content is the best way to create Klout for yourself, your brand and your platform. Look through portals that present viral content such as Upworthy to get a glimpse of examples that are viral worthy.

Using these tips, you can effectively start building your presence and authority in your space. In terms of real life implications, if you are an entrepreneur, you can build an influence and a following long before you even have a product. You can generate interviews with key people in your industry, intelligently address the problems within the industry, and generate content to resonate with like-minded individuals. This provides a fantastic foundation for a startup or product launch down the road.

Furthermore, as an investor, it’s important to present yourself as a knowledgeable individual in terms of scaling businesses, building teams, financial management, and industry expertise.

As you can see, having an influence and establishing yourself as an authority can pay dividends in whatever you may be doing whether you’re an artist, a consultant, a musician, or a traveler. Use it to your advantage.

So now you’re probably thinking, Wow! This sounds great. I want to someday hold the type of influence where I can reach hundreds of thousands of people per day.  How many times do I need to post? Does once a week work?

Absolutely not.

Building yourself to be an authority, like everything else good worth pursuing in life takes hard work and dedication. Successful influencers publish at least 150 posts a year - Again post early and post often. 

150!?

How do you find time to write 150 posts a year?

The best way is to always be capturing ideas and keep a log of those ideas somewhere. You can keep a log of ideas that come to you for blog posts on your notes app on your phone. These days there are many apps like Fetchnotes for keeping track of thoughts. As you progress throughout your day, keep revisiting these ideas and continue to add notes. That way, when you are ready to write, you merely have to develop the thought instead of suffer from minutes of writers block as you miserably ‘search’ for an idea.

So that’s a wrap. Now it’s time for you to go out there and start establishing yourself as a leading authority and influencer in your industry. Again I always love hearing from you all, so feel free drop a line or tweet me (@rayyanislam1) and keep me updated.

Special thanks to Chris Yeh and the Wasabi Ventures Academy for helping make this post possible. 

Keep hustling my friends.