If you’re going to build your personal profile and reputation as an authority in your particular field, then you’ll need a platform from which to help you increase your visibility and deepen the connection you have with your audience.
But first, what are the differences between being an expert and an authority?
In short: an expert knows a lot about a particular topic, and there’s no shortage of them; an authority on the other hand is someone people listen to, take notice of, recommend to others and buy more readily from. There are not as many of them because it takes time and considerable effort to build authority in the marketplace.
In days gone by your platform would have consisted of one more a combination of the following: a stage (e.g. professional speaking circuit), radio show, newspaper column or a regular spot on TV.
These are still important channels today but have always been quite difficult to achieve because somewhere along the line you’ve needed a ‘gatekeeper’ – an individual or committee of people to give you the imprimatur, or ‘green light’: to deem you worthy of being involved. Nowadays, however, you can bypass the gatekeeper altogether and create your own platform.
So, what is a platform?
I define ‘platform’ as a person’s combined and integrated presence across the web – their blog (or podcast or online video series) along with their following on social networks – plus any regular offline exposure, a regular magazine column for example. The result of this presence is a growing audience.
Think of these elements as the ‘planks’ of your platform. The more planks you have, the stronger and more solid your platform (as long as you don’t stretch yourself too thinly).
One example might be this:
You have a blog (your content hub), a YouTube channel, Facebook brand page and Twitter account. These channels, along with your growing base of readers, YouTube viewers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers – your collective ‘planks’ – make up your platform.
By way of illustration, the cornerstone of my platform is my PR Warrior blog from which I develop and share ideas, interview experts (and authorities!) in the PR, social media and content marketing space, ruminate on trends and issues facing not just the PR industry but marketing generally, and provide case studies and examples of brands I think are leading the way in terms of new marketing thinking. I also produce and host a podcast called Reputation Revolution.
Nowadays… you can bypass the gatekeeper altogether and create your own platform.
Add into the mix the fact I have growing networks on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; I contribute regularly to several online news sites and blogs, including Smart Company and Firebrand Talent’s Ideas Ignition blog. plus I speak extensively to audiences around the country. These channels – anchored by my blog – are planks that collectively form the basis of my platform and from which I spread my message to, and connect with, an audience of thousands.
Best time to start is NOW!
If you want to become an authority in your field, yes, you need the necessary skills and knowledge, but you also need to start thinking about building your platform, and the best time to start is NOW! Plan by all means, but don’t overthink it – as they say, don’t let perfection get in the way of getting it done.
Develop that blog or kickstart the video series or podcast you’ve been threatening to launch over the years. Integrate your social networking channels and start actively participating online, adding value without the expectation of getting anything in return.
Do this over time, with passion, purpose and strategic intent, and you will be rewarded with a growing reputation as an authority who’s recognised, trusted and respected by the marketplace.
P.S. The concept of building a platform works just as effectively for a business as it does an individual.