Think of the most influential person you know. Think for another minute about what it is that attracts others to that person, and makes everyone around her say, “She really knows what she’s talking about (or he :)).”
In order to sound like you know what you’re talking about, you first have to know what you’re talking about. But, even after that, there’s more to it than just being knowledgeable. A lot of it is in the way you present information; it’s in your tone, your appearance, and the way you talk about yourself.
Even if your blog is new, you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your niche among your readers if you can earn their trust and then keep it.
1. Be Honest
A front can only last for so long, and the lifecycle of the lie gets shorter and shorter as the number of people you surround yourself with grows. If you plan on maximizing your reach and putting yourself in front of many people, learn to get real. Take cues from some of the thought leaders out there: the ones with long-time, loyal followings in mass numbers are very honest.
There’s a method to the madness, though. It’s not about being honest for the sake of morality. It’s about being honest for the sake of trust. There’s no question that you should not lie – we all know that. But being honest about who you are, what you know, and how you can help establishes a level of trust that is not easily broken. People will feel comfortable with what you have to say going forward if they trust that you are not going to lie to them; that if you don’t really know something, you’ll be upfront about it.
2. Be Opinionated
I’m not so sure when or why the word opinionated got such a bad name, but in the realm of thought-leadership, it’s crucial. However, don’t add being nasty, rude or condescending to the mix. Opinionated just means that you have an opinion about something one way or the other.
As an advisor, you’ll need to have an opinion in order to really provide advice. Feel free to offer an open-ended discussion but be prepared to answer the question, “What do you think about that?”
3. Be Accurate
This is a tough one. Ultimately, you have to be right. At least, you have to be mostly right. When you don’t know something for sure, refer back to number 1 above and just mention that. But where you do know something, you should probably test it out before you go blogging about it. You can bet that others will certainly be testing your theories, too, and the mavens among them are going to call out the inaccuracies.
Your blog is your turf, so protect it. If you’re blogging about numerical things (stats, etc.), show proof. If you just want to avoid the potential for error altogether, admit that you haven’t tested something but you are in the process of it (e.g., if you are promoting a product). In all likelihood, you’ll attract comments and reactions from people who are in the same boat that you are.
4. Be Open
It takes guts to do what we do as bloggers. Fully knowing that everything we publish online is going to live on well past us, we lay out our thoughts, knowledge, and very valuable advice out there for the public to consume, and we do it FREE.
Then add to all of that the fact that we invite people comment on our stuff! Naturally, it would be easy to get defensive of our own contributions to this world.
But if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, you have to be open enough to hear and appreciate responses. Maybe it’s just me, but people who get defensive about their posts come off a little immature. People who are sure about what they say aren’t shaken so easily. For the most part, they believe they are right, so, a little challenge isn’t going to mean much. And if they are shown to be wrong, that’s fine, too. They acknowledge it and store it away for later.
5. Be Choosy
If you really, really want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, you have to be choosy. Pick your battles – and that includes what you choose to write about, how you choose to write it, and how you respond to reader comments. Hone your craft, and then own it. Lack of passion is noticeable, so try not to write about things you don’t know or care about.
On my own blog, I’m very choosy about both topics and writing style. I don’t write a certain way or about a certain thing just because everyone is writing that way today. Tomorrow, that trend may be long gone. I have made it a point to stay away from fluff, even if it means sacrificing some traffic. As a result, in just a short time, people trust me enough to seek my advice and opinions on things, and that speaks for itself.
What else characterizes people who are generally thought of as in-the-know? What matters to you?