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How to raise your online profile and become an authority in your field

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Use your online profile to become known as an expert in your field

The other day at a networking meeting in Buckinghamshire I met a financial adviser who told me he didn’t need an online presence because he gets all his customers through word-of-mouth referrals.

A decent website with basic SEO

After a bit of probing, I discovered that he did have a website – no-one can have their heads that deep in the sand – but that he only got it because “everyone else had one” and some slick website designer made him a good deal.

With a bit of luck the designer may have thrown in basic search engine optimisation tactics into the bargain, which means his company name will not be completely buried if potential customers search for a financial adviser in Buckinghamshire.

No, he insisted, that doesn’t matter, because most of his referrals come from networking breakfasts and nights out in the pub.  He doesn’t need any of that.

I nodded and tucked into my bacon and eggs, because I know a lost cause when I see one.

Why your online profile is crucial for business

But, for the record, he is seriously mistaken.

Even if not a single customer ever arrives at his door via his website, a well-managed online profile is crucial for his business.

Testimonials, biography, services 

When was the last time you used anyone’s services –  without checking out their website first?

It’s the first thing you do. And when you’re clicking through, are you just satisfied to see a list of services or do you actually take time to read the biographies of the partners and testimonials to see what other clients say about them? Do you compare their services with competitor websites in terms of value for money and professionalism?

Informative, engaging blog posts

If you’re looking for a financial adviser and there was a blog post on the site with tips for first-time investors or how to save money on your household bills – would you stop to read it to see if the author knows his or her stuff?

Linked in, Facebook and Twitter

I suspect my breakfast neighbour probably has a thin and stale profile on Linked In, which doesn’t do him any favours, but I’d be very surprised if he’s gone anywhere near Twitter or Facebook.

Not only is he missing out on valuable opportunities to reach out to potential clients in his area, but if he should ever have an unhappy customer who happens to be more social media savvy than him and started dissing his business online, he’d be blissfully unaware of this reputational damage.

Journalists could be looking at this very moment for someone to quote on financial issues and he would be none the wiser. An opportunity for great exposure missed.

Guest-blogging – a real opportunity to build your reputation

Trying to explain to him how guest blogging has turned two of my clients into experts with near celebrity status in their respective fields through posting of informative articles on sites read by potential customers, would go way over my friend’s head.

E-mails, vlogs, e-books, podcasts, webinars – show off your knowledge

Neither would he be open to discussing the power of email newsletters and vlogs – or video blogs, e-books, webinars or podcasts – as a means to attracting visitors to his site and becoming known as a real authority in his field.

At the end of the day – this is a man who’s decided to turn his back on the future and will refuse to see the writing on the wall until it’s too late.

Stand out above the competition

Yes, his company may be able to survive without a decent website, blog, social media and email newsletters for a while longer, but if he really wants to reach his potential and stand out above the competition – a strong and strategic online presence is at least as important as buying rounds in the pub.

Contact me for more information if you need some advice on how to build an effective online profile for your company and yourself.

I create online communications and social media strategies for companies in Buckinghamshire, London and internationally.