Here’s How You Can Become An Authority In Your Industry
Start by distinguishing between manufactured authority and authentic authority.
As a strategic book development and writing coach, I find that most of my clients see writing a book as a means for growing their business. And rightly so. Together, your book and the work that you put into it, can radically transform you and your business. Not only can your book prove to be a terrific resource for developing and delivering your services, but it can also become powerful evidence of your professional authority.
And that’s what I want to talk to you about in this two-part series–how you can use writing a book to build authentic authority.
To win clients, we all need to demonstrate authority. From sales calls to “About” pages, we’re always looking for opportunities to evidence our expertise and influence. To author a book can be one of the best, most powerful ways of doing that. (I’ll explore how in part two.)
But in our eagerness to establish authority, we can sometimes fall into the trap of manufacturing the evidence. It can seem like a good idea in the short term, but, in the long term, manufacturing authority will waste your time and hurt your brand.
Manufactured authority isn’t new; it’s as old as name-dropping and soothsaying. But the internet has given us a whole host of new tools with which to forage evidence of expertise. And so manufactured authority has entered into a kind of renaissance.
Take for instance “bestsellers.” While many authors claim this status, those of us inside the industry know that, in most cases, the title is meaningless. All you need to do to become a #1 bestseller on Amazon is to create a new category for your book — a category in which there are no competitors — and sell a single copy.
You’ll also find badges from reputable news organizations like MSNBC, WSJ, and CNN displayed on the websites and social media pages of people who have never been interviewed by or appeared as a guest on any of them. Truth is, you don’t have to be interviewed as an expert to claim that you contributed to those platforms; you can simply post articles on their blogs. Anyone can.
It’s no surprise that people feel compelled to manufacture authority in these ways. Claiming to be a bestselling author or a CNN contributor can certainly spark interest and attention.
The trouble is this: What happens next?
After you’ve piqued someone’s interest — when they want to watch your interview on CNN or find your book among the other bestsellers at Barnes and Noble — what will you tell them then?
The degree to which you manufacture authority is really the degree to which you manufacture vulnerability. Because all it takes is a little poke, and your manufactured authority will collapse on top of you. And it’s difficult to get out from under it. It’s way harder to build authentic authority in a space where people have learned not to trust you.
So why waste your time manufacturing authority when you could be using that time to actually make a difference?
Authentic authority is what it sounds like — earned credibility, genuine expertise. It comes from attending to your work rather than making up credentials. It comes from contributing to your field and giving value to your clients.
When you build authentic authority, you deepen your mastery and grow your practice in the process. You get to “keep the main thing the main thing” as one of my mentors likes to say. You get to focus on building your brand and your business. Then, for that work, you are rewarded with recognition and genuine expertise.
The ways that you build authentic authority depend on your field and the activities that interest you. The important thing to remember is this: don’t make it about what you can get; make it about what you contribute.
One thing that I like to do is organize author-agent round tables. I invite aspiring authors to meet with two or three literary agents. They’ll discuss the publishing process — its opportunities, its challenges, and what it takes to succeed. Maybe they’ll even go and do business together.
Putting that talent together makes me a genuine resource, both to agents and aspiring authors.
So hosting events is a great way to build authentic authority. You could also start a blog like this one. You can package case studies and publish client feedback. You can speak at conferences and appear on panels to share what you’ve learned. You can do the same on television — you might not start out on CNN, but by working your way up from local networks to national media, you can add value as you prove your mettle.
And, of course, you can write a book. (More on that in Part 2)
In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about how to write a book to grow your business, check out From Owner To Author, a Facebook community for coaches, consultants, and business owners with authorial ambitions. Click here to join the conversation.
And, if you’re not into Facebook, that’s no problem. You can check out my book, How To Write A Book That Sells YOU.