If you want to become a credible leader in your industry and poise yourself for meaningful career growth, gaining and sharing expertise related to your field is crucial.
Being an authoritative source on developments in your industry can make your trustworthiness more powerful than even advertisements. The 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report shows 83 percent of global respondents trust recommendations of friends and family, while only 70 percent trust in branded website advertisements. If you're looking to grow in your career as a freelance marketing consultant, for example, building up a strong presence on a site like LinkedIn can make you a more attractive choice than an agency paying for an ad.
Related: 3 Components of Thought Leadership
Other benefits of learning more about industry developments and sharing your findings with your online networks include:
- You'll stand out among recruiters
- As you gain expertise, you may be asked to guest blog, speak on a panel, or present at a conference
- Your current employer and coworkers may view you as a leader and give you more opportunities within your current role
- You become a more valuable contributor in any role you work in
Improving your personal brand by positioning yourself as an expert starts with identifying and consuming worthwhile content. With more than 1 billion websites vying for your attention, here's how to pinpoint what is useful on your journey and how to find industry content that benefits your brand.
Start with Social
Your social networks, whether strictly professional or personal, are great places to start to see what peers are talking about. LinkedIn, a social network dedicated to professionals, allows you to join groups based on topics you're interested in and follow companies in your space. When you're in a group, you can share articles, join in on discussions, and forge new connections with other industry professionals.
Twitter is a network you can use to monitor trending hashtags and follow journalists and news accounts related to your field. Curate targeted followers by adding them to lists on Twitter, then scroll through the Tweets from a list to give you a snapshot of the most important Tweets.
Even Facebook has become a news site, displaying trending headlines to users based on their demographics and what content they engage with. Creating a Facebook account that represents you as a professional can help you hone in on content related to your job. If you find it difficult to discern which content you should be paying attention to, the Content Marketing Institute presents some ways to measure the social impact content has to see what is most prominently trending.
Use Listening Tools
Besides being attentive to what's being said on social networks, set up listening tools designed to alert you with breaking news and present you with content you're likely to be interested in. Of course, we're fans of the News Feed in the Smarp tool, which allows organizations to become their own publishers for employees and enables businesses to create, schedule and publish content for their company.
You should also pay attention to links that are shared within company group chats or email chains by coworkers, which may cover topics you aren't familiar with but that impact your industry. If you work in sales, for example, and a web developer shares an interesting article related to coding evolution, you can learn info that may help you in your next pitch.
Other ways to get access to more industry content include:
- Google Alerts: Simply type in keywords that relate to your profession or interests, and you'll get daily news featuring those keywords.
- Feedly: Set up streams that include websites you enjoy or topics you're watching out for, and the best content is streamlined in an easy-to-read dashboard.
- StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon is a fun "discovery engine" that delivers web content one click at a time related to topics you've listed and content you've engaged with. The more you use it, the more refined its delivery becomes.
Other niche news sites include Reddit.com and Digg.com. You can even use questionanswer sites like Quora or Yahoo! Answers to see what's being talked about in your industry.
Never Stop Learning
If you want to become an expert in your industry and cultivate a strong personal brand as one, it is vital to embrace a love for knowledge. Read the trade magazines your CEO subscribes to. Sign up for free email newsletters from publications you love. Participate in online forums or Twitter chats, where you can have friendly discussions with other professionals.
Take advantage of guest blogging opportunities. Writing great content requires thorough research, since you'll want accuracy whenever content is attached to your name. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by writing means you'll be able to also read, research and learn more about your topic.
Apply these digital strategies offline, as well. If you enjoy networking, head to mixers where you can ask attendees what sites or publications they subscribe to. Whenever a bigger piece of content, like a book, is mentioned in a conference speech that piques your interest, take a note to look into it later. Pick the brains of people you do business with to discover what content they're interested in.
Technology makes business today move more quickly than ever before. It is absolutely essential to proactively learn about your industry to thrive. Growing your expertise and sharing it in your community opens you up to more professional opportunities that can lead to career growth and the ability to make a positive impact in your industry.