To be or not to be… known

As I look to grow out this new business, I thought it would be interesting to build out a list of people who are influential in the MarTech space (Thank you Little Bird for the help!).

So I created a MarTech twitter list to help me follow these thought leaders and the very first tweet that caught my attention was this tweet from Mark Schaefer:

And while Mark doesn’t lead with the punchline in his article, I’ll give it away here: the only thing that matters in online influence is being known

And he gives more than a few ideas on how you can help yourself become “known”:

  • Write a book
  • Establish a speaking career
  • Become a consultant
  • Be named to a prestigious board
  • Stay relevant in your field for many years
  • Build a helpful personal network
  • Be recognized by your industry peers
  • Obtain a teaching position at a university some day
  • Be seen as a leader in my industry
  • Put yourself in a position for a promotion outside your current company

However, I’d argue that many of the strategies that Mark mentions are really the “result” of being known, not necessarily a strategy to become known.

Let me explain.

During my time at Dun & Bradstreet, I had a unique opportunity to jump-start a project that was designed to help the in-house industry experts get more recognition as thought leaders in their space.

Our team took on a number of initiatives including suggesting social updates, building out podcasts, ghost writing monthly content, getting content placed/featured and a ton more. (The LinkedIn team did a pretty good job describing some of the methods and results in this case study they prepared on our program).

The result of these efforts were that many of the execs, who were often extremely knowledgeably in their field, were able to get recognized (or “known”) for their industry expertise.

The result of the hard work of engaging with thought leaders in a meaningful way online was that many of them were able to:

  • Get additional speaking gigs…
  • Join prestigious boards
  • Write books
  • Stay relevant
  • etc.

For example, one of my favorite executives who was part of this program, Anthony Scriffignano, just won an award this week as the Chief Data Officer of the year at the CDO Summit.

In addition to being an all around awesome guy, I think it’s safe to say that the hard work that Anthony and his team have put in to helping him “be known” is one of the reasons that he’s often recognized in such awesome ways.

The point that is worth highlighting is that Mark Schaefer does a great job talking about the benefits of being known, but I’d guess the strategies he used to become known are so intuitive to him that he didn’t see the need to articulate them.

A Proven Strategy to “Become Known”

When you’re ready to be known, here’s how I break down the four key steps:

1) Identify the key thought leaders who are active in your space

  • These could be speakers, academics, authors, journalists, vendors, partners, executives, event organizers, etc.
  • The key is that they’re active online and willing to engage with you
  • The list can be small. Especially in the B2B space, it’s often enough to have 15 to 20 people who can seriously move the needle in raising your awareness if they were to start actively engaging and promoting your content

2) Create regular social content that interacts with these thought leaders

  • One post a day where you tag the thought leader is often enough

3) Have some piece of keystone content that you regularly publish

  • Could be a podcast, a quarterly report a book… or even a regular event. Most important is that you have something valuable that you’re adding to the conversation on a regular basis
  • Getting your content placed on third party publications can be huge here. Do you have a connection to a trade magazine that will feature your content? I have some decent connections to some LinkedIn Editors who would regularly “feature” content from D&B execs often adding thousands of additional engagements

4) Create a digital home that summarizes all the work that you do well

  • It’s totally okay if this is just a landing page…
  • What’s most important is that this page as an easy and obvious call-to-action (CTA) that helps you build up your database. Without a CTA, you end up starting from scratch each time you create a new piece of content and that’s just painful!

In other words, if you want the results that Mark mentions in his article about online influence, the best place to start with baby steps that have you effective engage with the other thought leaders in the space and then start adding value. Once you have an audience and have developed a  message that resonates with people, then you’ll be ready to start reaping the benefits of being a recognized thought leader in your industry.

And obviously, if you have any questions, thoughts, critiques, I love this stuff and more than welcome the dialog!

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