3 Powerful Tips for Building Your Business and Career

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A lot of marketing strategies that work for big companies can also work for smaller companies, or even freelancers gutting it out online.

I believe that in today’s world, everyone has to be a world-class marketer in order to stand out and achieve career and business success.

In today’s marketplace, the biggest challenge professionals have is standing out in the crowd, becoming recognized as an authority, and obtaining their dream job.

Tested, proven marketing strategies can help you solve these challenges, whether you think of yourself as a marketer or not.

Let’s take a quick look at three of these simple strategies right now …

1. Become a subject matter expert

If you want to be found online, or want to become valuable in the workplace, then you have to focus on one area of expertise.

You must become the most knowledgeable person on a certain topic — an authority — so that people are eventually compelled to come to you for that expertise. Whatever you do, don’t be a “jack of all trades.” It’s completely ineffective because you will end up blending in instead of standing out.

If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to anyone.

In a new study I did in partnership with American Express, we found that both employees and managers agree that being a subject matter expert is extremely important to career advancement. 65% of managers and 66% of employees say it’s either important or very important.

When deciding on the subject you want to become an expert in, you need to think about a few different things. First, you have to be genuinely interested and passionate about that topic so that you will naturally want to invest the time in order to master it.

If you’re just doing it merely because of a perceived market opportunity, you won’t become exceptional at it.

Second, you need to analyze the marketplace you’re about to enter, to determine the demand for that topic, as well as the competition within it. If you see people talking about a subject over and over again online but there is no thought leader who has carved out the space, then there may be a market opportunity for you.

If you see a lot of competition for that topic, then you need to consider how you can approach the topic in a fresh and unique way. You may need to develop a long-term strategy to become the market leader, which could potentially take years of work.

Third, you should build a focused niche audience that you want to support. For instance, if you want to be a copywriting expert, you could focus on a certain industry audience, such as healthcare or finance. If you know there are a lot of job or freelance opportunities in those industries for that topic, then you can specialize and become the best-known person in that niche.

Becoming a subject matter expert is the best way to build your career and business, because you become someone that people truly come to know, like, and trust.

2. Develop your soft skills

In my research, I’ve found that employers are looking for “soft skills” over hard ones when hiring and promoting.

Soft skills include being able to prioritize work, interpersonal communication, the ability to work well in a team, and conflict resolution. In today’s world, more and more people are lacking soft skills because they are relying too much on technology for communication and project management.

When two people have the same skills or are both subject matter experts on the same topic, it’s soft skills that separate them. In copywriting, your ability to convey your point of view in a concise way, and focusing it on the right audience, is everything.

The best way to develop these skills is to become self-aware and to put yourself in as many social situations as possible.

For instance, instead of emailing someone or sending an instant message, try giving them a call or setting up a lunch meeting. It’s much easier to get ahead in your business if you are meeting people in person because you can get a better sense of what they’re looking for and truly put your best foot forward.

As you’re putting yourself in these situations, if you’re around a friend, co-worker, or manager, you should try to solicit feedback from them. Maybe you’re coming off the wrong way or you’re seen as disrespectful. Sometimes you just don’t know unless you ask someone else.

How you present yourself to others can have a major impact on how successful you will become when it comes to networking, winning business or getting ahead in the workplace.

3. Publish compelling content regularly

Copyblogger.com contains a wealth of in-depth posts on the topic of content marketing, as well as related topics like email marketing and SEO copywriting. Think about how you can use the same strategy to develop content for your own career.

Just reading and taking classes to become a subject matter expert isn’t enough to become a true subject matter expert. What you need to do is to become the chief content officer for your own career.

After you’ve figured out your niche topic, start to think about everything you could write about it. Then narrow down the subtopics you want to start to tackle — the specific angles and niche approaches you want to master. When you write articles or blog posts, make sure you’re covering these subtopics in a way that hasn’t been written about before. Your posts will stand out in the clutter, and people will be more interested in them.

In addition, write in your own voice so that you can differentiate your writing from others.

Then, set a publishing schedule and do everything you can to be consistent. This is how you earn an audience, gain visibility, and attract new career opportunities.

You can leverage your content over time as an extension of your resume and as a way to lure clients into wanting to work with you.

Let me know how you’re accomplishing your content marketing goals in the comments below …

About the Author: Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career and workplace expert, the Founder of Millennial Branding and the author of the new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press).

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Comments

  1. Great article. I think delving deeply into a niche is a great idea. These specialist skills really set people and businesses apart. There’s something really great about being known as an authority in a subject.

  2. Dan, One thing that always come to my mind when I read your articles is you write so simply, it can be read without putting pressure on your brain, which gives a positive effect on readers mind.
    My conclusion is writing so easy is not so easy….Lolz

  3. Consistency is so important. I am so glad you made it a point to talk about soft skills. We focus too much on whether we have the skills to do this or that. However, the fact remains that hard skills can easily be taught (for the most part), soft skills on the other hand are difficult to master and takes a good amount of will.

  4. Good points, especially about the soft skills. If you want to stand out in today’s workplace you have to rely on something besides just knowing stuff and having an overloaded CV.

  5. Great points, all. Being consistent when it comes to producing and distributing content is so darned important. My content marketing goals include a certain amount of blog content per week, along with a weekly email newsletter, but it’s not always easy to make that happen when you’ve got to factor in time to do client work, as well as time to market yourself to get new clients.

    I haven’t got this challenge licked completely just yet, but I found that what really helps me is spending a few focused hours at the beginning of each quarter generating blog post and newsletter ideas, then creating an editorial calendar for each and getting it down in a document that I can refer to each week as I’m creating the content. Still, I wish their were more hours in the day sometimes! : )

  6. Thanks Dan for a clear, concise and very helpful article.

    The health/fitness/wellness industry that I am a part of is bubbled over with ‘niches’ that all look the same. Been honing my authority in this industry so that I stay very well separated from being categorized with one of the ‘bozos’.

    Love how you pointed out that by being the jack that blends in does nothing for the ability to be taken seriously and stand out. Simple, sensible and practical.

    ‘Soft Skills’…never heard that before but damn could immediately feel the groove of the meaning. It’s demonstrating those interpersonal skills in your copy that is the brilliance!

  7. I am always learning how important #2 is.

    Years ago I had a “build it, they will buy” mentality. But I’ve learned the hard way you need to listen to your audience and customers and be of service.

    Learn about their problems, how they view the world, how and what they think about things. Speak with them (I’m doing a Google Hangout series now to facilitate this, for example) and work with them. Being of service is all about being human.

  8. “In today’s world, more and more people are lacking soft skills because they are relying too much on technology for communication and project management.”

    Dan, I agree. That’s why I love the advice Gary Vaynerchuk gave to this copywriter, Jackie Pearce – “pick up the phone and call your clients!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AW1w_GL1Uuw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUctXZhXmG-kf3tlIXgVZUlw

    Dan, any advice on how to juggle using your soft skills and publishing content with having a busy working life? I’m so busy doing the work, I feel that I have little time to promote myself.

  9. Great short read. So very true and timely for me personally considering I’ve spent all weekend polishing up my online portfolio. I think it’s safe to say that you can become a subject matter expert in even a fairly broad area, too, such as internet marketing, or web development – areas big enough to offer lots of material to speak on, yet limited to specific business functions. Of course, having soft skills is probably the most important on this list for career technologists. Everyone appreciates an assertive, confident communicator.

  10. Excellent article. Soft skills – verbal and written communication skills as well as interpersonal skills make a huge difference in personal and professional life.

    Just as mentioned in point 3 – consistency is key in everything in life. Woody Allen said “80% of life is showing up”. No matter whether it is content publishing, or learning to play piano, or play Socccer – if you show up consistently – you will make a huge progress.

  11. One thing people continuously ignore is the importance of soft skills. No matter you are spending your day in front a computer screen, your work/words/copy will have a reflection of you. And the good news is it is possible to acquire many of those soft skills – you do not have to be born with those skills. Your example, calling people instead of writing, is perfect. By calling people instead of writing, you get things done more quickly, refresh your relationship with that person and take a break from technology.

  12. Excellent article. Soft skills – verbal and written communication skills as well as interpersonal skills make a huge difference in personal and professional life.

    Just as mentioned in point 3 – consistency is key in everything in life. Woody Allen said “80% of life is showing up”. No matter whether it is content publishing, or learning to play piano, or play Socccer – if you show up consistently – you will make a huge progress.

  13. I love how you’re honest about the length of time becoming an expert can take. The majority of my mentors (colleagues) are still perfecting their niche after years of working in the industry and that’s simply because digital changes so rapidly. So I guess you can add flexible and tenacious as major players in the soft skills set.

  14. Another tip for building your business and career is to join your local chamber of commerce. I did this, and I am bartering my content writing/marketing and social media skills in exchange for membership. I was also asked to speak at one of their meetings next year. I have two presentations, and I’m hoping to give present both of them This is another way for me (and others) to market my content.

    *I like the tip about calling someone. It’s convenient to email or text, but when you pick up the phone and speak to someone, it’s more personal. You receive a better chance to know the person on the other end better, and they get to know you, too.

  15. I really like your “quick” words of awareness. Most of us have heard all this before, but it probably didn’t register at a level that we keep them in our conscience. Thanks for the reminders without going overboard.

  16. These rules definitely work. I know they have for me. Especially number 1 and number 3.

  17. Dan, what called my attention is “call your customers” I work in the sales field, so I can say there is nothing as show up in person, or on the phone… Getting social in real life improve your ability to get in touch in social media or “virtual life”

  18. Great inspiring posts with the exact tips for anyone who would want to build a successful a career should be focusing.

    This article really resonates with my last three years experiences. How I have to start building my freelance service from scratch by learning SEO and Content marketing. As you have mentioned when we build authority people want to work with us.

    My Latest Book “SEO & Social Media for Hospitality Industry” which was published on Amazon Kindle few backs recently helped me get another new £1k a month client.
    The book helped them find me and contact me for a presentation and finally they decide to give me the work.

    I see there is a very big need to to stand out form the crowd, if you are into freelance services or small business.

  19. Meeting in person is definitely vital in building relationships – very effect. It also is a great way to get out and about and moving your body.