Dorie Clark, Wall Street Journal best-selling author of “The Long Game”, “Entrepreneurial You”, “Stand Out”, and “Reinventing You” will share a step-by-step approach on how professionals can become recognized experts in their field.
There is a difference between being good at what you do, and being recognized for being good at it. But how do you become a recognized expert in your field, and establish your reputation as a thought leader?
“We know this is a really noisy and crowded environment,” Clark said of the business marketplace for independent consultants. “We need to make sure that the people who could benefit from us and from working with us actually know who we are and are familiar enough with us to actually seek us out.”
Ultimately, that is what enables consultants to charge premium fees and have a full roster of clients.
“You want somebody to come to you as a sole source provider because they already know and believe that you have the ability to solve their problem. They already have a high degree of trust in you and your capabilities. Becoming recognized for your expertise is what enables that to happen,” she said.
Dorie Clark is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of books including The Long Game, Reinventing You, and Stand Out, which was named the #1 Leadership Book of the Year by Inc. magazine. She is a professor at Duke University Fuqua School of Business, a consultant, and keynote speaker. Dorie was named one of Top 50 Business Thinkers in the World by Thinkers 50. Learn more about Dorie at dorieclark.com and download your Recognized Expert self-assessment toolkit here.
Dorie shared advice and tips during an Umbrex Presents event, along with her step-by-step approach on how professionals can become recognized as experts in their field.
Key points include:
7:00: The three key components of building your expert platform.
16:47: A three-step process to building a following around your expertise.
22:00: Thoughts on writing a book.
39:00: How to effectively promote your content.
42:00: How to get featured in high-profile publications such as Forbes and HBR.
Umbrex presents. Thank you for joining today’s event. I’m Shelly with Umbrex and Umbrex presents as a series of live interactive conversations with thought leaders, all of the sessions are free and open to the public. Today we are talking with Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author Dorie Clark. Dorie is a professor at Duke University, Fuqua School of Business, and she was named one of the top 50 Business thinkers in the world. Dory, His books include the long game, how to be a long term thinker and a short term world, and stand out how to find your breakthrough idea and build a following around it. Dorie, thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you so much for having me, Shelly. Great to be here.
All right, before we get started and jump in, why don’t we take a poll of the audience to see where you are in your journey of building content. So we have a Mentimeter poll, if you will just go on your phone or on a browser to men t.com, that’s menti.com and enter in the code that is shown on the screen. It’s 7903928, once you go to menti.com, and enter in that code 79039281. So what we’d like to know is where you are and publishing content to build your brand. Do you publish regularly? How often do you publish? If you want to let us know? And what platforms do you publish on? Do you have a blog or a podcast? Do you publish through LinkedIn or Twitter or YouTube? So if you’d like to give us your feedback, and just we’ll get a little bit of a sense of where, where people are publishing, I see some some things coming in. People seem to be publishing somewhat regularly. Yeah, several times per week, even daily, alright. So Dorie, it looks like people are publishing somewhat regularly on on different kinds of schedules. And what about the platforms that people are publishing on? If you’d like to share with us, and we’ll jump in with story here in a minute and have a great conversation about this? Got some coming in now. Yeah. LinkedIn, podcasts, blog, articles, Twitter, a lot of that coming in. So yeah, it looks like we’ve got people really publishing some content on a regular basis. So So Dory, let’s just jump right in. And what I want to start with is your book stand out. And your book you wrote, too many people believe that if they keep their heads down and work hard, they’ll be lauded as experts on the merits of their work. But that’s simply not true anymore. And you also wrote that being an expert is great, but it’s not enough to be recognized as a leader in your industry, a thought leader, you have to stand out. So can you elaborate on that? And let us know how the people watching can stand out?
Yeah, absolutely, Shelly. Thanks. Well, I think we probably all understand intuitively that there is a pretty wide gulf between being good at what you do, and being recognized as being good at what you do. I’m sure that, you know, almost everybody here in the Umbrex community is, you know, really excellent practitioner. And you know, that that’s not in dispute. I think that what what often is the case for many talented professionals, is that the things that we have optimized for the things that we have over indexed on have been things like the quality of the craft, or getting more educational credentials or getting more experience, and those are fantastic things. But we know, this is a really loud and noisy and crowded environment. And so ultimately, you know, the tree falling in the forest doesn’t do a lot of good, we need to make sure that the people who could benefit from us that could benefit from our services and working with us actually know who we are, and are familiar enough with us to seek us out. Because that ultimately is what enables us to command premium fees to have just less of an uphill battle when it comes to landing clients. I mean, I think we’ve probably all been there that it’s a little demoralizing to feel like you have to keep you know Knock Knock knock, you know, Will Will you hire me or like, you know, submitting to these chemistry calls or these RFPs or nonsense like that. You want someone to come to you as a sole source. provider because they already know and believe that you have the ability to solve their problem. They already have a high degree of trust in you and your capabilities. And so becoming recognized for your expertise is what enables that to happen.
Yes, absolutely. That’s great. So becoming recognized for your expertise, obviously, that’s the goal. And in the book, you also wrote that becoming such a recognized us expert, as you wrote is a mysterious and opaque process. So you also have a step by step approach for how professionals can build that recognition for their expertise. So can you share that with us?
Yeah, absolutely. I have spent over a decade really trying to study this question, because it was something you know, and probably a lot of folks in the Umbrex community can relate to this, this was something that I really believed was mission critical. For my own business, I started my consulting firm in 2006, I’ve now been doing this 16 years. And, you know, early on, I didn’t have a lot of connections, I didn’t have a lot of sort of high powered networks that I could lean, you know, lean on, in order to get me work originally, unfortunately, you know, I mean, I, I had done some cool stuff. I’ve worked in politics, and I’ve worked in journalism, and I’ve worked in nonprofits, but you know, that ain’t gonna pay the bills. Because those are not the people that can really hire you for the kind of lucrative consulting work that many of us are striving for. So I had to find a way to somehow break into the networks of people that didn’t know me that I didn’t really have connections to. So I had to really try to analyze the process, understand what it took, and then enact it. And so for me, it was oftentimes a bit of a frustrating process. So I wanted to try to lay it out to hopefully make it easier for other people. And, you know, they wouldn’t have to feel like they were reinventing the wheel. So fundamentally, what I have discovered I’ve written about this in the Harvard Business Review, is that there are three key components to becoming recognized for your expertise. And they kind of work together holistically, the three pieces, and I’m glad to go into more detail about any of them. But they are content creation, meaning you have to share your ideas publicly so people know what your ideas are. Number two is social proof. We need to give people at a glance, enough confidence in who we are that you know, that that we know what we’re doing that we’ve done this for other people, before that they’ve heard of that we that we have credentials in whatever form credentials might come in that say, alright, you don’t have to worry about this. This person is vetted. So it’s content, it’s social proof. And then finally, it is your network, because you need to know the right people you need them to know who you are. Those three interact is kind of a flywheel, and are what enable us to become fully recognized for our expertise and therefore to to be able to charge what we’re worth.
Yeah, yeah, that makes total sense. So in that those three key components, do they go in that order? Does it matter? What order? Are you constantly working on all three of them at the same time? Maybe, maybe tell us a little bit more detail about those three components?
Yeah, that’s a great question, Shelly. And, you know, the truth is early on, for somebody that’s, you know, relatively new building their brand, as a consultant, it’s kind of like, whatever, do something, you know, something is better than nothing. So it kind of doesn’t even matter where you start, it’s fine. But what what happens over time, and this is a problem that I see a lot of experienced consultants fall into, you know, we’re humans, right? So we tend to keep doing the thing we’re already good at, we tend to keep doing the thing we already like. And so the problem emerges, because sometimes, you know, somebody can be really over indexed and successful in certain areas. It could be like, well, you know, I’m doing so much, you know, to build my brand to build my platform, it’s not working. Well, almost always, if that’s the case, if they feel like that, it’s because yes, they are working hard, but the problem is, they’re doubling down on the thing they’re already good at, and they are not lifting up the element that they have previously neglected. And so I actually have a free resource that might be helpful to some of you guys. If you go to Dorie Clark comm slash toolkit to LK it, you can download it’s a free recognized expert self assessment. And it actually it’s a series of questions, it gives you a graded score that helps you figure out where you are and therefore based on that, to figure out where you should be spending your time in which of these areas is is most useful for you. But in general, the further along you get, we tend to have one area that perhaps is more of a weakness than others. And so eventually, you know, the bad news is eventually you’re going to have to correct that weakness early on, do whatever you like, but eventually you have to ask Get decently good at all three.
Yeah, yeah, I think that that’s fascinating that, that talks about how we concentrate on what we are really good at and what we like. And we really build that up. And it sounds like it’s a little bit of a balancing act between doing what you’re really good at what you’re an expert at, and learning new things or building up other skills. So do you have any advice for how consultants and independent professionals can kind of figure out how to balance that or when to go and and obviously, your toolkit? You know, that’s a great resource
right there. Yeah, I mean, you know, in general, of course, this is something that probably every consultant has spent a lot of time thinking about, which is, you know, we know that the natural tendency, if left unchecked, is for us, you know, to have this kind of, you know, these waves in our business, these sort of non productive waves, where it’s like, okay, oh, God, so much work, oh, my god, work, work, work, work, work, and you don’t have time to do anything else. And then all of a sudden, you finish the work, and it’s like, whoa, well, now I have no work. And then you panic, because like, I’ve got to get clients, I’m gonna get clients. And so it’s, it’s the, you know, these like terrible cycles of feast or famine, that are not helpful for anybody, I think what most of us probably would like, is to have a more stable, predictable flow of business. And so the way to do that is to make sure that your marketing allocation of your time, never dips below a certain level. Now, if you’re completely packed in your schedule, and if you’ve been completely packed for a long time, then you know, maybe it’s small, maybe it’s only 10% of your time is spent on marketing efforts. You know, that’s, that’s fine. But if you have had this kind of choppy business model, where it’s like so much work, then no work and so much work, that no work, then that implies to me that you, you don’t have the sort of processes ironed, ironed out enough that you can afford to go down to only 10% marketing. So I think that most people need to keep a steady drumbeat of time allocated for marketing, I would say probably 25, or 30% of your time is not a bad ratio, as we’re thinking about it. Because you always have to be thinking about the winter, you know, winter is coming. And you gotta you gotta be doing the work now, so that when your current projects are ending, you will have other new things coming to you. And you won’t have to stress out about it.
Yeah, absolutely. I think anyone who’s an independent consultant or a freelance professional, you know, can relate to that feast or famine type of thing. And that’s great advice to keep on going with the marketing, even when you’re really busy to some extent, so you don’t experience that as much. So let’s move on to another part of standout which talks about finding your breakthrough idea. How do people find that breakthrough idea? And any advice there? Yeah.
So this, you know, this is actually part of the subtitle of, of stand up, find your breakthrough idea and build a following around it. And I think this is something I wanted to be sure to address. Because for a lot of people who are consultants who are professional service providers, one of the hang ups that I think a lot of us have sometimes is we feel like, oh, gosh, you know, I mean, yeah, I’m good at stuff. But I don’t know what my breakthrough idea is. I don’t I don’t necessarily even know what’s different about me, or what’s unique about me, like, Yeah, I do good work. But there’s a lot of people that do good work. And that is a supernatural feeling. And I think that one of the important things to keep in mind, is that we sort of have to be gentle with ourselves in this process. When I started my consulting business, I would say it probably took me in all honesty, maybe about seven years to come, you know, to find to figure out what eventually turned into the thing that I became known for. Right? That doesn’t mean that we can’t start striving for that earlier. But I don’t think we should be beating ourselves up. Like any business, you know, whether we’re talking about a high tech startup or your own consultancy, there is a period of time where you’re finding product market fit, and you’re trying to understand Alright, well what audiences want to work with me, you know, who seems to resonate with what I’m doing? What do they keep asking me for? What is the place where I am adding special value or something that people seem to really, you know, jive with, for whatever reason. And as you’re figuring that out, you can continue to refine it. But that is not something that arises, you know, super early on, you have to often feel your way into it. But some of the questions that we can begin to ask ourselves might be things like, where do I have a competitive advantage, for instance, and this often comes from, from your background, it may be your your training, maybe your demographics or whatever. I mean, for instance, if you are a former lawyer, then I would say, you know, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do this or you want to do it, but you would have a competitive advantage. If you wanted to consult to lawyers, or, you know, the same might go if you are, you know, a woman who wants to be a coach for women’s leadership or whatever it is. But you know, what is the thing that gives you extra credibility? And you know, that’s at least one starting point. Another question to always ask yourself is, well, what’s not been talked about what’s not being done? You know, if you really it’s almost like writing a book proposal, right? You read all the competing works in the field? And you say, Okay, well, this is good, this is good, this is good. But what are the gaps? And you can begin to think about that, and understand, you know, these are the seeds of how to figure out what your unique methodology is your what your unique point of view is?
Yeah, yeah, that’s great. Um, before we move forward, I just want to mention to the audience that you can ask questions of Dory on the Mentimeter minty.com in a nti.com, and enter in the code for us, which is 7903928179039281 at minty calm. And if you have any questions for Dory, pop those in, and hopefully, we’ll have some time at the end to to get to some audience questions. So um, thanks for sharing that about the breakthrough idea. It’s great to know that it’s a process, it’s not something that people have to feel as pressure about knowing what that is overnight or immediately. So once you’ve established your fundamental differences, your you know, your unique proposition and that breakthrough idea, how can independent professionals build a following spark and build a following around that idea?
Yeah, so when it comes to building a following one of the points that I talked about and standout is that, essentially, we should think of this as a staged process, right, like a three a three step process. And, you know, the, the first part comes at a minimum with sharing, sharing your idea, right? No, nobody’s even gonna know what your ideas are, unless you’re sharing them. So you need you need to begin that process. And so it sounds like from the from the Mentimeter poll, that many of you are already doing this. And this is an important step, right? You’ve got to be doing things like writing articles, or giving speeches, or just somehow finding a vehicle, you know, it could be live streams, your podcast, but some vehicle to put your ideas out there, so that people who don’t know you personally can discover you and can discover your ideas. So that’s, that’s one piece. But you know, that’s, that’s what I would, you know, say is, is an initial starting point. And that is a way of beginning to give people something that they can share, right? Because early on, the your clients know, you your clients think they’re great, but odd. But you know, if they don’t have something to pass on, all they can say is like, well, Shelley’s great, you know, you should work with her. It’s like, okay, if I really trust the person telling me that, then I’ll hire Shelly, but that doesn’t travel that far. Whereas if Shelly writes an article, then this becomes a one to many kind of phenomenon. And so I can send it to my entire email list, I can forward it to, you know, 15 friends, and it has this kind of virality. So the one to many is important. And then over time, it begins to take on a life of its own and become many to many, which is the final stage, which is, you know, I might have sent out Shelley’s article, but then, you know, friends, three, three generations down, or forwarding it, and then it becomes viral because other people who have never even come close to meeting her in person are somehow now familiar with her ideas.
Yeah, that’s great. That’s a really excellent way to look at it. I love that the many to many, one to many, in the many to many. Yeah, that’s that’s a great process. So I’m moving on to talk about one of your other books. The New York Times called you an expert at reinvention, self reinvention, I guess. So in your book, reinventing you, you talk about the new branding landscape and leveraging your points of difference, which I think is a little bit about what you’ve just been talking about, you know, finding your unique, what makes you unique, and what you offer that that sets you apart. So how can consultants or independent professionals reinvent themselves with these ideas to help build that reputation as an expert in their field?
Yeah, so I think, you know, in in many cases, it doesn’t. I mean, we’re always reinventing ourselves, for sure. But oftentimes, it’s it’s not necessarily that we have developed a huge public persona, and then we need to change it. That happens sometimes, and we can certainly go into more depth about that if that’s the case, but I think for many people, you know, not to not to stereotype, but oftentimes if you’re becoming a consultant, often you have had a background somewhere else working for somebody else. Maybe you’ve been a corporate executive. Maybe you’ve worked in nonprofits or academia or Something like that. But you have oftentimes been in house before you started a consulting career. And so the truth is, there’s less pressure for people to build a brand in house. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it, they should, they just don’t realize it. Whereas when you are an independently employed consultant, or an executive coach, you understand at a super visceral level, that you you eat what you kill. And it becomes really, really important for you to be thoughtful about putting your ideas out there getting known all of a sudden, this is a matter of extreme urgency, because you don’t have the, the safety net, or I would call it the putative safety net of being inside of a corporation. And so I think in some ways, it’s less a question of reinvention. And it’s more a question of just stepping up in general.
Right, write of course, because when you are the independent consultant, or coach or other independent professional, you know, you are the brand, you don’t you don’t have another brand to kind of fall back on or whatever you are the brand. And so building that brand, and establishing yourself as the expert is really important. Absolutely. Yeah. So why don’t we check and see if we have any viewer questions, if we can pull up that minty poll and see if there are any audience questions that have come in? Okay, so Katherine Valentine has a question to establish yourself as an expert. Everyone always thinks of a book, Dory, when when is the right time to start thinking about writing a book? So yeah, great question. When you’re establishing your expertise, writing a book is something great that a lot of people do or want to do thoughts on that Dory.
Yeah, well, Catherine, you’re exactly right. And it’s great to see Katherine here. She’s a member of my recognized expert community, which is an online course and community that I that I run, you know, talking about many of these issues. So so thank you for raising this. You know, for me, personally, I was I was right there. When I kind of started on this journey. I wanted to write a book, I wanted to write a book because you know, a, that was the, to Catherine’s point, that was the thing that I thought that one needed to do to grow one’s brand. Also, I just, you know, I think probably this is true for a lot of us, I just freakin wanted to write a book, I thought it’d be cool. It was like a lifelong goal. So I really wanted to do it. And then I kind of got my, my hat handed to me, because it was 2009. And I wrote, I wrote three different book proposals, trying to get somebody to be interested in something. And no one was interested in anything, because I was not famous enough. And that was that was really the wake up call. I just, I just didn’t have right. I thought, oh, you know, I’ll write a good book, and then I will, I will grow my reputation because of it. No, if you, you know, it’s different with self publishing. But if you are trying to work with a commercial publisher, you will not be allowed to write a book until you are sufficiently famous. That’s just how it works. And so you have to figure out the problem of how to become sufficiently famous. This is not what I wanted to do. This was not what I signed up for. I was annoyed by this. But I was like, Well, you know, okay, fine. And so that was how I started blogging. And that was how I started the journey to attempting to learn how one can become a recognized expert. So to answer specifically, your question, Catherine, I would say, if you if you know that a commercial, you know that, that commercial publishing is not something you’re interested in, or it’s just not in the cards for you, it may not be in the cards for you. For instance, if you work in a super niche market, you know, if I am whatever, if I’m a consultant to the aluminum smelting industry, I assume that aluminum gets smelted, I’m kind of making that up. But if you are, for instance, odds are Harper Collins is really never going to publish a book about here’s how to do aluminum smelting better, that’s it’s just too narrow for their audience. They want something that 100,000 people or a million people could buy theoretically, not, you know, a tiny audience. So in that case, you can self publish it, and you probably should self publish it ASAP. Because you know, it’s a handy, it’s a handy thing. It’s a handy business card to have. And you can give it to all of the aluminum smelters that you meet, and it’s like, here’s the Definitive Guide, and they will probably be impressed. However, if your goal is different if you have a sort of broader target audience, and if you want to be reaching, you know, one day, the possibility of doing commercial publishing, you know, let’s say you’re a leadership coach for Fortune 500 companies, you know, you you perhaps could, depending on your topic, get a commercial book deal. And in that case, I almost liken it to kind of playing chicken, which is that you should probably wait as long as you possibly can to get a book deal because the longer you spend in the platform building process As of writing the articles, doing the podcasts doing the live stream, getting your name widely known, the better off you’ll be, because the publisher a, they might even come to you at a certain point, because they’ve heard of you and they’re seeking you out, that would be amazing. But even if they don’t do that, your name will be familiar to them, once you come to them with a proposal, and your platform will look robust enough that they’ll say, Oh, well, you know, she can sell tons of copies. And so you’re likely to get a high advance, which means that so they don’t lose their high advance, they are going to put even more money into marketing it and trying to make it a success. So you have the deck stacked in your favor, if you hold off longer in writing your book.
Yeah, that’s great advice. Um, you know, I love hearing you talk about the platform, because earlier you said being famous, and you know, we’re not talking Kim Kardashian famous, we’re talking about being a thought leader and an expert in your field. And you’re absolutely right, when it comes to nonfiction publishing, business publishing. publishers want to see that platform. And that’s all what this talk and your process is about building that platform, building your expertise. So thanks for sharing that. Let’s take a look at some other questions. Okay, so and building that platform, publishing content is a big part of it. And 101, A viewer asked how often should we be publishing content? Is there a minimum frequency? So in the mentee poll at the beginning, we saw people kind of all over from daily to quarterly to you know, I don’t know when I feel like it or when I can, every now and then do you have any advice on a minimum viable frequency?
Right, right? Well, you know, I would say, if you’re only publishing something, say quarterly, you do run the definite risk that people kind of might forget who you are. I mean, if they if they already have a good understanding, I mean, if I, if I were to read an article by, you know, I know, I’m picking somebody sort of fate, you know, famous industries, like Daniel Pink, for instance, I already have a pretty firm grasp of who Daniel Pink is. So if I read an article for buy him four times a year, I’ll probably be fine, you know. But the problem is, if there’s somebody that I really haven’t heard of before, I’m probably not going to retain their name, because I don’t have an anchor for it. And so if I only see it four times a year, I’m probably not ever going to form that anchor. So I think you do need to have more frequency so that people stay with you, and you can build the snowball up enough so that eventually it can start rolling down the hill. So I would, I would say, if if you haven’t doing quarterly, try to do it monthly. If you’ve been doing it monthly trying to do it bi weekly. You know, I think it is rare that someone is at risk of publishing too frequently. I suspect that that’s probably not gonna be the case for most busy professionals like you. I mean, certainly, you know, internet marketers sometimes send emails, like multiple times a day, which apparently is effective, albeit extremely annoying for people. So I would say maybe, maybe don’t do that. But, you know, if you’re, if you’re doing anything, you know, weekly, bi weekly, monthly. I think that’s, that’s in the reasonable range in terms of content creation.
Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And I love your advice of maybe trying to bump up your frequency a little bit. If you’re doing something monthly, maybe bump that up and try to do it weekly. So that’s great advice. So here we go with a question from Bradley Holbrook. Once you have some authority, what is the best way to link your authority building to leads coming into the funnel? Is there a good bridge instead of waiting for leads to come to you?
Yeah, this is this is a great question Bradley. And you’re exactly right, it is important to make sure that we’re being thoughtful about how to attract leads to us. And to capture those leads. I know, for literally for years, I was just not conscious of this, I really wasn’t clued in. And so when I was writing regularly, very regularly for Forbes for Harvard Business Review, you know, on my bio that I would have for those places, it’s like we’re on your can follow her on Twitter. And I’d have like, link to my Twitter, don’t do that. People don’t do that. It’s like, who cares? Who follows you on Twitter, one thing that we have learned time and again, is that a social connection, a social follow, is worth a heck of a lot less than an email, subscription and opt in email subscription. Those are people who are proactively raising your hand raising their hand and saying, yes, you know, you can contact me regularly. So I think that’s what we should be striving for. And, you know, trying to get people off of off of social. I mean, it doesn’t mean they can’t follow you on social, but the goal is to try to take those social followers and turn them into actual email of, you know, people signing up for your email list. So how do you do that? I’ve put a lot of time and thought into it. What I would say a few low hanging fruit things. I’ve written a number of articles about this, but I was Number one, make sure that when you are creating content, that you are meticulous about making sure that there is a link at the bottom with your driving people to your website, and especially to a lead magnet, where there is like really only one choice on that page. If it drives your website, that’s great. But there’s like 100 things people can do on your website. Oh, maybe I’ll check out his contact page. Maybe I’ll check out his about page. But but know, what’s good about a lead, you know, a landing page is that you get one choice. And the one choice is, oh, you know, do you want to download my thing. And you can actually, if it’s an interesting enough thing, you can get a pretty high opt in rate, for instance, just to go meta on this. If you go to Dorie Clark comm slash toolkit, as we talked about earlier, that’s a landing page. And so you have one choice, do you want to get the recognized expert self assessment or not. And that’s a way to drive people to subscribing to the email list, which gives you the opportunity to, to stay in touch with those folks. So always making sure that the bio, in articles leads there, if you’re doing a podcast, you know, almost always the host will say, Well, gosh, how can people get in touch with you? And people often have these like weird answers, you know, send me a message on LinkedIn. Well, I mean, that’s okay. But even better, send them to your landing page. Don’t miss those opportunities.
Yeah, that’s, that’s excellent advice. Let’s see what other question is a good question. What are your thoughts about involving potential clients and content creation? So in many industries, there’s the user generated content, or the client generated content, which can be really valuable. So one question is involving potential clients and content creation, such as interviewing them for an article or a blog or inviting them on a podcast? That seems to me an excellent way to build your expertise, and to become known as an expert with other people on the field. What are your thoughts story?
Yeah, this is this is a terrific, a terrific suggestion, and something that I would definitely recommend. There’s just two caveats to go with it. So one is an important freeze in the in the in the question was potential clients. Because if you’re writing for a mainstream news publication, odds are you can’t write about your actual clients, because that will be considered journalistically inappropriate, because you’re kind of publicizing these people who are giving you money. But if they’re a potential client, if they’re if there’s someone you’re not doing business with now, but hack, you’d like to get to know them, then that’s perfectly appropriate. Now, of course, we’re talking about things for your own blog or your own podcast, it doesn’t matter. There’s not such a thing as journalistic standards when you’re running your own podcast. But, but if you were writing for like a Forbes or an HBr, or something like that, you couldn’t do it with with your own clients. So that’s just one proviso to keep in mind. The other thing that I would just caution against that, and there’s not an insurmountable problem, because the good of connecting with people really outweighs any negative. But the important thing to keep in mind is that if you are interviewing somebody for something, people are often really dense. And we need to understand, they will think of you as a journalist. In their head, there’ll be like, Oh, well, he’s a journalist, you know, he interviews people. And it’s like, no, I’m a consultant, you know, but you have to make sure that they understand that. And so, in the course of the interview, you need to make sure that you’re dropping in these references to like, oh, well, you know, I’ve seen with many of my clients, bla bla bla bla bla, or when I’ve worked with clients, like you have seen robber robber, but you have to consciously overcome the fact that in their head, you are the journalist who is asking them questions, and that is your sole role.
Yeah, that’s a really good point. Great advice, because otherwise, that’s just that person that interviewed me about something, not this consultant and this expert that I might call on for something else. Oh, that’s, that’s really, really good advice. So Jesse has a question. Can you comment on the use of ghost writers? What do you think about ghost writer? Writer, not writers, writers, ghost writers?
Yeah. So So ghost writers are, you know, I mean, the main thing about ghost writers is it’s hard to find a good ghost writer. I do not use ghost writers personally, because, you know, I got my start as a journalist, so I’m perfectly comfortable writing I can do it pretty fast. So it’s just it’s not you know, there’s plenty of things in my life that I outsource but that’s not a thing that I feel the need to, but there’s there’s no shame there’s no problem in employing a ghostwriter. But it is hard to find somebody good so I think that’s the the key thing you will probably need to experiment a lot Whether it’s finding people on Upwork, or even better, getting recommendations from colleagues, maybe it’s a question of rate, you know, you can get a little creative, right, like reaching out to your local University Writing Program and seeing if somebody you know, is an MFA student or a professor or you know, a teaching assistant or something needs extra work, you know, whatever it is, but there may be ways to find them. But you will have to have quite a bit of back and forth upfront with that person to be able to capture your voice. So just if you are using a ghostwriter, make allowances that number one, it’s probably going to take more time than you want or hope to find the right person. And then number two, once you do, there will be a lot of refinements so that they can learn to speak like you.
Yeah, absolutely. Those are great points. And there are other options besides just ghost writers as well. co authoring I think is a really good way to, you know, a lot of people if they’re wanting to write a book they don’t necessarily have they’re not writers themselves, but you can get a co writer and you can also get a great editor. So you do the writing, you’ve got the expertise, you’ve got the thoughts to get out. And then a great editor can help you rather than a ghostwriter. I think that’s another
good way. Absolutely. Yes.
So recommendations for becoming a stand out content producer, your book stand out, that’s what it’s all about. So how do you improve writing and podcasting skills to become that stand out? content producer?
Yeah, well, I think I think there’s, there’s a lot of pieces to this. I mean, one certainly is, is really just your practice and repetition. Because you will find yourself getting better in ways that you don’t even know you don’t even anticipate. I mean, for instance, I run a weekly live stream interview show with Newsweek where I, you know, speaking of interviews, where I interview a lot of authors and different people, and I’ve noticed over the past year and a half of doing it, I think really just just from the sheer exposure, that I’m I’m kind of looser, I’m less nervous, I’m able to kind of have a better time at it, because it doesn’t seem so stressful. I’ve essentially desensitized myself to it, which has made me more perhaps conversational, and probably more fun. So there’s a lot of things that that just the sheer practice, we’ll do. But above and beyond that, I think that when we think about how to get better at stuff, one thing, which I think we often really fail to consider, and it’s pretty basic, but I think it bears mentioning is would you be interested in reading that article, or, you know, consuming whatever the piece of content is, we often create things because we maybe have a picture in our head, like, oh, well, this is how it’s done. Or, you know, maybe clients would like this. But you know, I think for all of us, if we read another, another article, where the title is, like four ways to be a better leader, it’s like, kill me. Now, we’ve all read that article 1000 times, that is the most boring thing. I would never want to read that article. But if if you can come up with an article that you yourself would be like, Yeah, I would totally read that. That sounds interesting. That’s the bar that we should be striving for. Because presumably, if you are an educated consumer in the marketplace, where you’re reading, you know, you’re reading articles in the style that you want to be writing, you are beginning to develop a, you know, a personalized, internalized sense of, you know, what’s new, what’s cool. What’s interesting, and it’s interesting for you, it probably will be interesting for other people as well.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s great advice. I love the you know, for leadership. Pete, there are certain pieces of content that are out there in a million different ways. And it seems like that’s also a good way that people can look at their own expertise. What are they really good at? What do they know that other people don’t know, in the same way that they can write about that’s, you know, very unique, and they’re helpful perspective to other people. So yeah, there was a question there. So we’ve been talking a lot about writing content promoting getting it out there even writing a book. So then after you’ve done that, there comes the promotion. So there was a question about tips on promoting your content once you’ve got it out there.
Yeah, definitely. I think that it is true that many times we kind of dropped the ball. We’ll just when we’ve gotten to the finish line, because we sometimes think, Oh, well, you know, the hard part was writing the article and you know, maybe you send like one tweet about it and you feel like you’re done. Well, no, you’re not you’re not done. You’re definitely not done with that. One theme that I talked about in standout is that if you have taken the time to create something that really is a great piece of content, you know, an article that you’re genuinely proud of you Want to spend far more time trying to get it out than you might imagine? I think the question is, how can you do something once and make it count 10 times? So I mean, just by way of example, if there’s an article where you’re like, Yeah, this was really great. I would love as many people to see this as possible. Well, okay. We don’t just like share it once on LinkedIn and call it a day. I mean, you can share it, you can share it on on LinkedIn when it comes out. But then the question is, alright, well, can you take a special poll, quote, it’s particularly intriguing from it, and and share that with a link to the article, you know, two days later, could you do a video of yourself on Instagram, let’s say, or Facebook, talking about the number one insight that you learned from writing that article? Could you take a picture of yourself and put it on Instagram? You know, you know, oh, here’s me, you know, putting the finishing touches on my article about blah, blah, blah, Lincoln bio, you know, but just thinking about, okay, for all of the different channels that you’re on? What is the way that you could optimize this? Maybe you could do a live stream, where you answer questions related to themes that are in the article, there’s a lot of way to continue to get juice from it far beyond what most people do.
Yeah, absolutely. And that kind of goes hand in hand with repurposing content, like you say, you have a written piece, maybe you, you do a video about that even a short video, and maybe you even have a podcast about that topic. So using it, utilizing it in different ways. So Nicholas has a great question. There’s a lot of talk about if you’re published in Forbes, or HBr. But how does one get published there? That’s the million dollar question right there.
That’s right. That’s right. And, you know, in, in fact, not to be too self referential. But for for less than a million dollars, I actually literally have an entire course that I’ve created on this, it’s called writing for high profile publications. And it’s about six hours of material. So you can tell that there is a lot of nuance to it. But let me share with you, Nicholas, and others, some of some of the key highlights related to this. So I would say, probably the the most important thing. For many very good business publications. You know, let’s, let’s separate out, you know, literally how to get in front of their eyeballs. But, you know, the first part is like, how do you write an article that will be appealing to them. And so I think something that we often fail to do, is we often fail to reverse engineer the process. We, you know, we come up with an idea, and we think it’s clever, like, oh, you know, four lessons that, that great leaders can learn from, you know, Steve Martin, or something like that, right? And it’s like, okay, well, that would be fun. That’d be a cool article to write. But, you know, I’ve had people come to me and say, Oh, hey, Dory, I’ve written this cool article, you know, do you think HBr would like it? And the answer is no, HBr literature really never runs an article like that, you know, the, the lessons from sports, or the lessons from actors or whatever, that’s not their house style. And so you are, you’re going to get nowhere with that, even if it’s the best written article possible. So it’s really important to spend the time upfront to reverse engineer and, you know, not just read to sort of get the content, but to understand, okay, what are the types of pieces? What are the angles? What are they doing? What are they not doing? And how can I write an article that would sort of fit in? With that, who, who is, you know, who can I sort of impute is the intended audience of this. So for instance, if you were writing an article, again, and you’re trying to break in HBr, but you were, you know, using examples about but you know, blah, blah, blah, well, this person’s weight loss campaign, well, they’re not interested in that it has to be super business focus, because they’re writing for executives. So that you know, reverse engineering and starting with that is the first piece, I think another another key element of it is, is just just really understanding in depth, what has already been done. This is another super low hanging fruit mistake. People saw the write an article, again, maybe it’s a good article, but if something similar to it has already been done by that publication, it’s no go. So you need to really research to see what’s been done before that’s related to it, and actually link to it in your articles so that you can prove to the editor that you’re familiar with, what their publication has done, and then position your things. So that is different. Those are two key pieces above and beyond that when it comes to actually breaking in. Many of the publications have guidelines on their website about how to submit but you know what the truth is? It’s always easiest if you can break in with a warm lead. So you know, the other half the battle is getting connections with people who already write for those publications and reaching out to them. Hopefully you’ve already, you know, you already know them, you’ve already built up a relationship. If you have, that’s great, because you can call in your favor to ask them if they’d be willing to pass on your piece to their editor or see if they’re interested in talking to you. If you don’t have connections with anyone, then it becomes a longer process. And in my new book, the long game, I actually talked about a rule that I have, which is no asks for a year, you certainly don’t want to send somebody you don’t know a message and say, Oh, hey, you write for, you know, insert brand name publication, could you know, could you introduce me? The answer is no, because these are very highly prized connections that lots of people want. And they’re not going to do that for a stranger. It’s just it’s a foolish use of political capital to do that, because they don’t know anything about you. But the question is, over time, how can you build up a genuine friendship and relationship with that other person, be helpful to them, such that you build enough of a relationship that over time, they will want to introduce you to those folks?
Yeah, absolutely. It’s about giving before you get before you ask. And really, this whole process of building up your your being known as an expertise and publishing content, and creating your platform, that all helps further that foundation to getting known and found for these types of articles. Right?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, again, in a lot of ways, the whole premise about becoming a recognized expert being known in the marketplace, it’s about tipping the balance of power, right? So often when we are starting out as a consultant, or if we have not, you know, really built up a huge brand in the marketplace, the power is with the buyer. And that sucks, but it’s the reality, right? Because they can say, well, you know, we have this $100,000 contract, who wants it, and then, you know, lots of people apply, and they, you know, they see a million proposals, and, you know, they can get all snooty, and well, you know, this one, this one, this one, and it’s just such a sucky position to be in, where you’re being evaluated by, by folks, oftentimes, who, you know, really don’t even necessarily know how they’re choosing or what they’re doing. It’s demoralizing. And so I think for all of us, one of the things that we should strive for, which not only enhances our bottom line, but just makes for a better quality of life, over the long term, is to develop enough of a professional reputation, enough recognized expertise, that you’re not in that dog and pony show anymore, and people come to you, and the balance of power shifts in your direction, they say, Will you work with us? And that makes an enormous difference.
Right. And that’s the whole one of the main reasons for building up such a reputation as an expert. That’s the that’s the goal. That’s where you want to get. So what about where does doing research come into this? One person has asked if you have any tips on doing research to help figure out what your audience would want to read and what content pieces Oh, do you do any kind of research like that? Or do you have any advice on that?
Yeah, I think I think that’s a great thing to do, for sure. And, you know, sometimes it just happens naturally, because people, people will just come to you asking questions, whether it’s online, you know, or, or just, you know, when you meet them in person, they have common questions that they’ll answer or that they’ll ask, and I think it’s useful for us to make note of that. Sometimes we just shunted aside is irrelevant information. But we need to notice and pay attention, say, Oh, I’m getting a lot of inquiries about x. Maybe this is a thing. That’s, that’s useful. But absolutely, especially if you have an email list of folks that you can contact, but even, you know, just on your LinkedIn or whatever, you could periodically post, you know, hey, I’m going to be creating some some content. You know, I think it’s useful to narrow it down a little bit sometimes. Because if you just say, hey, what do you guys want to know about? I mean, people often don’t know what to do with it, because it’s too broad. It’s like, why I want to know about badminton. Oh, well, I really need to know about a better tax service. You know, it’s like, you know, so. So I think if but if we say, Look, I’m going to be creating some content around, you know, whatever, around leadership challenges for newly promoted managers, you know, something like that, then it enables them to sort of focus in enough to say, oh, yeah, well, when I was a new manager, what I really wished I had had was X and Y, and Z, and they can actually give you some useful ideas.
Yeah, that’s great thinking about what you wish you had known, what is the content you wish you had to read? And I think also sometimes there’s research that has already been done that people don’t think of as research which is what are the questions that that you get asked all the time? Totally. People are always getting asked the same kinds of general questions over and over so that right there is sort of informal research to tell you hey, people would be really interested in the content piece around that. Do you? Do you find that to be true?
Yeah, absolutely. We oftentimes we just have to, we just have to listen, we have to listen to what the market wants, and not have our own pre judgments so loud that we’re ignoring things. I mean, I, I know that for instance, I, for a long time, thought of myself exclusively as a consultant. And people would ask me, you know, do you do executive coaching? And I was just like, No, you know, but what I, what I needed to understand was, you know, implicit behind the do you do executive coaching is, hey, Dori, we’d like to give you money, do you want some money? And I was just like, No. And you know, after a while, it’s like, come on, like, like, they’re asking for a reason, you could probably expand yourself concept a little bit. And so over the years, I’ve made a lot of money doing executive coaching, because I realized that the market was telling me something that I was not fully aware of, but that’s what the market was requesting.
Yeah, that’s great being pivot, being flexible and ability to pivot and, you know, explore opportunities, as they’re obviously cropping up with a need and a little bit of like, maybe potato versus the Tato. You know, someone might be calling an executive coach, and you might be doing a lot of the same thing as consulting. Absolutely, yeah. Yeah. So we have another question from Rick Denton, I’m too Mano focused on LinkedIn, because my place to share content and establish my brand, I think a lot of us can relate, when you have a particular platform that you you’re really good at, and you just kind of becomes your go to. He has concerns about not owning the platform experience, because it’s on another platform, LinkedIn, and the risks associated with not being in control, would you recommend expanding out of that as a specific platform? And for example, email list and the newsletter? Would that be a good step for getting on his own platform versus LinkedIn platform?
Yeah, Rick, I think you’re right to identify this as a risk. Because what, you know, frankly, whenever we’re too dependent on any one thing, you know, I mean, it could it could be, you know, if you’re consultant, if you have, you know, one client, that ain’t good, right, because if all of a sudden a new person comes in, or you know, are, we’re just making some changes to the budget this year, well, you don’t have a business anymore. So you need to diversify. And that’s true, whether it is literally your clients, or it is the question of leads and how you get those clients. So it’s true, I, you know, I love LinkedIn, LinkedIn, you know, for most Consultants is one of the best if not the best place to get clients. So I respect its reach, and I respect what it can do. But I also am fully cognizant that this is a publicly traded company, you know, under now under Microsoft, but it’s, you know, publicly traded, they have their own imperatives, they have their own things they need to do like juicing revenue, and there are weird unilateral choices that they might make in the future, they might not, but they might make them and it could be relatively devastating to our ability to reach people, I have something now like, close to 250,000 followers on LinkedIn, it’s like 244,000, or something like that, that is great. That’s a great way to reach people, I understand it can be taken away tomorrow. Meanwhile, my personal email list is much smaller than that. It is, I did a little trim of it recently, you know, to refresh it. So now I think it’s about 55,000. Right at the moment. And, you know, that’s, that’s great. But you know, it’s it’s a, you know, fifth the size basically, of, of the LinkedIn following, but it’s actually much more valuable, because I control it, these people have really, you know, raised their hands in a super proactive way to, to opt in to the list. And, you know, you’re able to build up a substantial relationship with them in their inbox, rather than in a kind of noisy confines of social media, where there’s a million other things shouting at them. So yes, I would really try as much as you can to prioritize getting them onto your email list. And, you know, encouraging them with with, you know, landing pages, you know, with giveaways and things like that, at a minimum, encouraging them to get to follow you on other social channels, if you’re on those channels, just so you have some kind of a backup or failsafe, just in case God forbid, something happened with LinkedIn and you couldn’t reach people that way anymore. You don’t want to be cut off.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s great advice. So I think we have maybe time for one more question from the audience. Let’s see. Do you have a list or advice on the five or six or seven types of content pieces? We should think about creating you know, if you could pick you know, a handful of the most important types of content pieces? Do you have advice on what that might look like? Oh,
boy, well, you know when it comes to the the type of content. I mean, I, there’s a lot of ways to interpret even the word type. So I mean, it could be that they’re thinking about like, articles versus LinkedIn posts versus podcasts or whatever. Honestly, I am relatively agnostic about how you’re doing it. But I think that what is what is important is, number one, are you reaching your audience in the place that they like to be reached? That at a really basic level, for many of us, that will be something like LinkedIn, although as we have been talking about, with Rick, we want to we as soon as we can, we want to get them off LinkedIn, to have a relationship with us as well. But, you know, if if your target audience isn’t on Instagram, then you know, don’t bother on Instagram, right, meet them where they’re at is number one. But number two, I think in terms of what the content is, the main thing that I follow, I mean, again, for all of us, there’s a lot of things we could write about, right, like you can, you know, get creative, you know, all kinds of different things. But ultimately, if you want the straightest path between doing a thing, and then getting business from the thing, what you should probably do is create content that is tightly correlated between what you want people to hire you for, because the ideal scenario, which happens rarely, in real life, although we want to strive for it as much as possible, is that someone reads your article or listens to your podcast, or watches your video or whatever it is, and they say, Oh, my God, that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. That is precisely what I want. I loved what she said, Let’s hire her now. And the more you can do that, I mean, it’s like throwing darts, right? If you kind of keep circling the bull’s eye, and doing variations of things related to the services that you can provide, then it makes it more likely that eventually someone is number one gonna realize, hey, that’s what she does. And number to say, Well, that happens to be exactly what I need right now.
Yeah, there you go. You’ve identified that those are the two main goals, what what do they need and that you’re the person to do it. So, Dory, so much great information. This has been fabulous. Thank you so much for joining us. I know, we might not have gotten to all of the questions, but the video will be available later. So really appreciate you taking the time and join joining us story. Do you have any anything else you’d like to share before we close?
Ah, thank you, Shelley. It’s been great to have a chat with you. I loved interacting with all the folks who are joining I see up on screen. So I guess I’ll do one more. Shout it for the recognized expert self evaluation toolkit. It’s at Dorie Clark comm slash toolkit. And you can download that and check it out. And also it’s a vehicle for staying in touch.
Yeah, for sure. I noticed in one of the audience comments that your your course on getting published Katherine Valentine, I believe so that she took that course and was published and Fast Company two weeks later. So that’s, that’s a great recommendation. So yeah, thank you so much story. This has been great, really have enjoyed it. And thank you everyone in the audience for attending. We hope that you’ll join us for our next Umbrex presents event that is in May, and that is going to be with Tyler Cowen. He’s a best selling author and economist. And we’re going to be talking about his new book talent, how to identify energizers creatives and winners around the world. So that will be on May 20. It’s free and open to the public. You can scan the QR code there on the screen, and you can also go to umbrex.com and register for that. And we hope to see you all there and may and thank you again for joining us.
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Dorie Clark, Wall Street Journal best-selling author of “The Long Game”, “Entrepreneurial You”, “Stand Out”, and “Reinventing You” will share a step-by-step approach on how professionals can become recognized experts in their field.