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In order to build an audience these days, you need to demonstrate three things- relevancy, value, and credibility. One of the best ways to do this is through the regular and consistent practice of becoming an expert. Although anyone can become an expert, most people are unwilling to devote themselves to this process consistently over time. If you’re willing to do this, you’ll be way ahead of others in your industry.

I tend to work with highly educated professionals who are looking to build online communities and internet-based businesses. In working with these clients, I help them with a stepwise branding and positioning process to build their visibility and presence online, as I help them create service programs to meet the needs of their chosen community.

Here is the checklist I take every client through:

1 – Do you know who your audience is?
Knowing who you want to work with and how you can help them is very important, because you will be able to target your audience more effectively. This means you can tailor information to them, and create better relationships and connections.

2- Do you have a niche or topic area of expertise?
Most highly educated professionals know a little bit about a lot of things. This makes it difficult to consider niching down. I’ve had this problem myself; and it’s been one that has taken many years to resolve. I, of course, help my clients get their faster than this. 🙂

3- What will you brand?
Once you know your audience and your niche, then it’s time to think about whether you will brand yourself, or the solution you provide. In the first case, the business runs on your personal presence- your personality, your likes and dislikes, and so on. While this has it’s benefits, perhaps, I tend to favor businesses that brand around a solution- some results they create. These types of businesses tend to be more salable, too.

4- Get a professional website.
If you are going to build an online business, you need a professional website. It does not need to be exorbitantly expensive (and probably shouldn’t be when you first start), but neither should it be something that you are teaching yourself how to do. It’s wise to have some financial resources to invest in sensible branding of your business.

5- Determine your chosen social media platforms.
I tend to suggest that my clients pick just 1 or 2 social media platforms for business, especially if they are new to social media. This enables them to go deep on a platform rather than going wide, and often gives them better results, faster.

6- Create a blog and start producing content.
Even for all the hype in social media, regular and consistent blogging is still one of the most effective ways to build your thought leadership. Educate your audience about the problems they experience, and provide them solutions.

7- Increase your visibility by networking and speaking.
Look for targeted opportunities to connect with your audience. Take part in networking events, either online or in person. Make yourself available to do podcast or video interviews. This can accelerate your audience building.

8- Keep going.
As I mentioned at the beginning, expert status is something that takes focused effort to build. You know you’re on the right track when you start to generate increased targeted opportunities for your business.

People would always rather work with an expert. This is why it’s worth the effort to become one.