As some of you know Judith Germain is hosting a one day seminar titled “How to leverage your reputation AND use social marketing to gain more business” and has invited me to join her. The day is planned to incorporate two highly interactive sessions in which each of us plan to run a workshop in our individual areas of expertise and experience. Whilst brainstorming with Judith various questions have come up which I feel are important for many of us as we all aim to use all of our experience to take our various businesses on to the next level. Leveraging reputation and expertise, especially but not exclusively through social media, is vital in ensuring that we capitalise on all our assets. For me this has been a challenge as it has to sit right with my working style, ethos and approach to how I like to build relationships with individuals and businesses. So the question has always been – how can I use the potentially spammy mass communication and mass connection tools and still retain a sense of the high quality reflected in a business that is about exclusivity. The aim of course is to attract the right sort of business without damaging my reputation, under-mining my expertise and diluting my credibility. So I asked her a few questions to ascertain what I needed to address to achieve this. Knowing that I am not the only one with this sort of dilemma, I thought that you too would be interested to hear what she has to say. It would be great to hear about how you are “leveraging your reputation, expertise and credibility” to improve your business performance too.

Question: Clarifying what one needs to do when leveraging reputation, expertise and credibility to attract more targeted business.

As someone who has been looking at how I can leverage my expertise and the reputation and credibility of a well established luxury fashion business, I am very aware that there are ways that will prove more successful than others. Not everyone is in the luxury fashion industry so they are not going to appreciate our successes and how valuable our reputation is within that particular sector. So, how do you help people like me who have maybe gone through a career/business change, are a corporate refugee, or are starting up a new business and need to leverage their credibility and reputation in one industry so that it makes sense to people in other sectors?

Judith Germain answers: “That’s a good question! One of the things that business people underestimate when considering leveraging their reputation and their expertise, is the power of having a good, clear business proposition. What I mean by that is that what you really do needs to be clearly articulated not obscured by marketing language that sounds glib and does not really explain what you do in an interesting or exciting way.

“Your proposition should not be littered with industry jargon and you should be able to demonstrate how you have helped other people through the proposition story that you tell. When you are considering how to articulate your proposition it is important to get back to first principles. Using straight marketing language to talk about what you do will not help you benefit from your reputation built up in other sectors, nor will it aid you in leveraging your credibility and expertise.

“In terms of a corporate refugee who is now running a business and wants to transfer the credibility they had in corporate life, like yourself, the first thing that they need to do is find the common ground between what they have done before and how that relates to the industry that they have moved to. You might have to get creative in finding that common ground but invariably it is there and you can use that to leverage that credibility to improve the credibility of the current business.

“For example an IT manager may leave corporate life and decide to become a coach. He may struggle to build reputation and people might believe that he does not have enough credibility to become a business coach. If I was working with the ex IT Manager we would go back to first principles and look where his credibility comes from. For example he may be a good problem solver, have great insight and able to provide direction and clarity to issues. It is this ability that he should be building his reputation on.

“It’s important that he develops a professionalism and expertise around what he is doing, this will attract people to his expertise or specialism. He must throw away unnecessary jargon and instead, leverage the common language which illustrates his experience in a clear and succinct way.”

Personally I think that Judith is absolutely right. Getting a clear proposition is vital in ensuring that you convey the right message to the right people in the right way.

So how do you leverage your reputation and expertise to get more business? Do you find it an easy thing to consider or does it make you mind go blank? Are you worried about doing things online for fear of damaging your reputation or not giving it a good head start because of getting it wrong?

What are your experiences in utilising your credibility, reputation and expertise that you have gained in other areas and making the most of them in your current business activities?

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