Networking – Developing Expert Status Through Writing Articles and Essays By Josh Hinds
I make no bones about it, I’m a raving fan of writing articles and essays. Particularly when it comes to writing on topics which relate to your given industry, or on things that are of interest to those who also operate in the industry you want to network within (i.e build strong connections).
If you’re thinking about passing on reading this, because you think you’re not a writer, don’t. I’ll dispel the myth that it takes some magical formula to produce worthwhile content below. For now, allow me to explain a bit more on what a positive difference writing articles can have on your networking efforts.
Writing Articles Changes the Typical Dynamic that Exists in Building Strong Networking Relationships…
Articles allow you to change the dynamic that generally exists in a typical networking situation. For example, where you have someone you want to meet, normally you would reach out to that person, and over time build enough value/rapport between you and that person that a connection grows over time.
However, as a writer of high quality, valuable articles and essays, people seek you out, which gives you a much greater perceived value when starting the connection/relationship with the person you’ve just met. It can greatly reduce the amount of time that it would take otherwise to achieve “trusted” advisor status with the given person.
In addition to Networking, I also speak and teach on what is called Personal Branding. Without getting into a long discourse on all the ins and outs of what Personal Branding is, it works like this… You want to self-package or present yourself in a certain way to others (i.e. the marketplace). When you do it right, the natural progression is that you begin to be viewed as an expert in your given area.
Some of the ways to do this (though certainly not an exhaustive list) include:
* writing articles and essays
* writing a book
* writing a booklet
* appearing on, or even hosting a radio show (or podcast)
* appearing as a guest on a TV show, or being quoted in a news story
* video clips where you share your knowledge
* speaking to groups and organizations
* Being a guest on (or hosting) telesminars or teleclasses
Essentially it’s all about positioning yourself as the go to guy or gal when it comes to what others need in your given industry. Again, the list above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways to build your personal brand.
Before I get ahead of myself let’s get back to the point of this particular article. That being writing articles and essays in order to better position yourself as an expert and trusted source.
I’m convinced that most people have a tremendous amount of knowledge to share which relates to their particular field or industry. The problem is that there seems to be a misconception that in order to write articles one has to be particularly skilled in the art of writing or journalism in order to do so.
While I’m certainly not going to discredit those who have more formal training in writing, I have seen enough people with little if any formal training write and share their thoughts in the written form and gotten some amazing results.
I’m an example of the group that has virtually zero formal training in writing. Would I be a better writer if I’d have first received formal training? Perhaps, then again, I’d likely have never written anything to start if I’d have not allowed myself to simply write the only way I knew how to start with. With that said, I’ll share how I go about writing articles.
Please keep in mind that there’s certainly no one way to do it. I’m sharing what works for me in the hopes that some of the ideas will be helpful, and that ultimately you’ll realize that the main thing is to get started. Over time, and through writing in the first place you will improve.
First, I write just like I would if I was speaking. Whatever comes to mind I write it down. I resist the urge to edit along the way, though admittedly at times I may do so just a bit here and there.
At first you may find that your urge to edit may be very strong, but resist it just the same.
If a thought comes to mind that I want to include that doesn’t fit in the particular section I’m writing on at the moment I’ll go to a different section in the article and write it there. Then I’ll come back to the particular section that I was writing on before.
What I just mentioned about moving from topic to topic as it comes to mind may not work for you. I mention it only because it’s something that I find works for my particular style of writing. As I mentioned before, this isn’t about the right way to do something, this is about moving you past all the reasons you think you can’t write articles yourself, and getting you to the point of doing so.
After I’ve finished writing my rough outline of the article, I use a program called, ReadPlease 2003 (you can search for it in Google or your preferred search engine). The program allows me to copy and paste the text I’ve just written and it will read it back to me. I happen to prefer this program as the voice that it reads back in isn’t near as robotic sounding as others I’ve tried seem to be.
The advantage to having it read back to me is that it’s like having an editor reviewing what I’ve written in a voice other than my own. Plus, as it’s reading back to me the particular program also highlights the words as it reads. Allowing me to both hear and see what I’ve written. Then when I pick up errors, either grammatical, or when something I’ve written just doesn’t seem to make sense upon hearing it read to me I can pause the program and edit my article.
Having written articles prior to using the ReadPlease 2003 program for editing purposes I can tell you this has been an invaluable step in the writing process for me personally.
One thing I forgot to mention is that when I fire up my word processor the first thing I do is write a title for my article which acts as an overview of what I’ll be writing about. So once I’ve completed writing the article, and have it all edited to my liking I look back at the original title I chose and change the wording as needed. Since I choose to write just like I would if I were speaking, on occasion I find that the focus of the article I started writing will change enough that changing the original title only makes sense.
There you have it, the exact process I use to write articles. I’m certain that those who are far better trained than I will have any number of suggestions and reasons why my particular approach isn’t the best, but as I mentioned before, it works for me. It’s what’s comfortable to me, and judging by the feedback I’ve received, and the many places both online and offline that have shared and published my articles and essays it seems to be an approach that works well enough 🙂
Because I am sure there is at least one person who happens to be reading this who just doesn’t believe they possess the skills to write articles themselves, but realizes the value in doing so, allow me to share a few other ideas for doing so that will give you the same end result… writing your own articles and essays which will better position you in the minds of others.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to actually write in order to write articles. It sounds like a contradiction I know, but here’s what I mean…
Two approaches to writing articles and essays for the non-writer…
1) you could record your thoughts just as you would if you were writing them. Remember, I choose to write my thoughts, just as if I were speaking them. You could always record your thoughts and have them transcribed into an article.
Once you’ve got your “article” recorded find someone to transcribe it, you can likely find someone in your area by looking in the phone book, or you could go online and search for “transcription services” or some variant of that and you’ll find a tremendous number of sources. You could also try a site like elance.com.
Once they’ve transcribed it for you, you’ll have it all in a format you can load up in your word processor and edit yourself if need be. It may not be the traditional approach to writing, but the end result is the same — your expertise will shine through as others read your words of wisdom.
2) Another approach, could even be what is referred to as ghostwriting. Where you have someone else write an article for you with the understanding that you will have your name attached to it as the author.
A variant on this approach would be to work hand in hand with the person doing the writing and allow them to write your thoughts on the particular article. So that they are your own thoughts, but they are the one doing the actual writing, where you include your name as the author.
Again, you can do a search for ghostwriting and you’ll find a number of sources if that’s something you want to explore. You might also consider finding a writer or journalism major who would be willing to work with you to write articles for you. If you have a local college in your area something as simple as giving the school a call and letting them know what you’re looking for should yield good results.
These are just a few alternative approaches you can take. As I said before, my intent isn’t to write an exhaustive tutorial on how to write, as much as to get the important point across that no matter what level you happen to rate yourself as a writer, with a little creativity and willingness to think outside the box you can create articles and essays of your own, and benefit from the expert status that doing so gives you. Give it a try, and watch for yourself how the marketplace will reward you.
In summary I’d like to share the following example of just how important writing articles has been in my own professional life. When I started out with what would become my first personal development web site no one knew me from Adam’s house cat. Literally 🙂
I did two things initially that I believe made a tremendous difference, and have played a huge part in where I an now. First, I made a point to continuously network with and meet people in the personal development industry. And secondly, I started writing my column that included my own thoughts and advice on personal and professional development topics.
In both instances, I didn’t stop to think of all the reasons why I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I didn’t allow the thoughts that crept in like, “you aren’t qualified to write” or “who are you to connect with that person, they’re well known, and you’re a nobody” — I didn’t allow those thoughts to stop me from taking the simple actions I knew I had to do in order to get the results I wanted to have occur. I simply did what needed to be done ongoing. I wrote as if I were speaking. And I connected with everyone and anyone that I could in my given industry. Years later I still do these two things.
It’s my sincere belief that as you adopt the approach of sharing your thoughts and knowledge with others you to will benefit greatly as a result of making the choice to do so. You will see a tremendous difference in the quality of connections you are able to make, and your network will grow beyond what you are likely to believe is possible at this moment in time.
Happy Networking and Personal Branding, Josh Hinds 🙂
* Josh is a speaker, trainer and author who teaches on topics including: Networking and Personal Branding. To learn more about having him speak to your group, company or organization visit www.GetMotivation.com/speaker/