For this month's column, I am going to focus on how to win locally by building your authority through thought leadership. Before we get into how to do it, let's look at what being a thought leader is all about.
According to the Thought Leadership Lab
: "Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are a trusted source who people will look to whenever their topic of expertise is discussed.”
If you are looking for an easy example, look no further than my friend, Barry Habib. In my opinion, no one is more trusted than Barry when it comes to expertise in the mortgage market. If you look at the definition of a thought leader from the Thought Leadership Lab above, I think you would agree that Barry falls right in line.
Now that we understand what a thought leader is, how do you, the loan officer, become a thought leader in building authority and winning locally. The two paths to building local authority in your field are by being a guest contributor on blogs and podcasts. Both of these mediums are very popular locally, and you can gain a lot of traction by being a regular contributor.
First, let's look at becoming a guest contributor on blogs. Guest blogging is an easy way to get in front of a larger local audience, along with being a great way to drive awareness of who you are and what you do. Blogs are always looking for relevant and educational content that will bring value to their readers.
Now let's look at becoming a guest on a local podcast. Unless you have been hiding under a rock, I am sure you have heard someone mention the rising popularity of podcasts. You may even be listening to podcasts as part of your daily routine, quite possibly my podcast with Christine Beckwith, the Mortgage X Podcast
Just like with blogs, podcasts also look for great guests who are the experts in what they do. Having a dedicated audience for a podcast is gold, so podcast hosts put a premium on bringing on the right guests. Even better is when podcasts also have a dedicated blog for their episodes, so you can essentially get a two for one when it comes to building your authority.
Next up, I will share my best practices when it comes to being a guest contributor on blogs or podcasts so that you can be in the best position for success.
Audience is key
To maximize the effectiveness of being a guest contributor, you have to know your target audience. The idea behind the guest contributor is that you are reaching out to blogs and podcasts, which have a local audience that would also fall in line with those who would be your potential customers. This could be a local podcast focused on the city you live in or a blog that is focused on covering local businesses. Both of those examples would have audiences where the information you provide as a mortgage expert could be valuable.
Do your research
This is in lockstep with knowing your audience, as mentioned above. Going a step further, you need to understand the style of the blog or podcast that you are engaging. Read a few articles, listen to a few episodes to see if your content would fit in with the vibe of the medium. This is especially important when it comes to a podcast. You want to make sure you can mix well with the personality of the host. Being a good match will lead to great results, while being a bad match will land with a big thud.
Be the expert
To be seen as an authority on your topic, you have to be able to write quality blog content that adds value or be able to speak like an expert in your field. To help you prepare for either medium, you can do what my friend Scott Schang of BuyWise Mortgage advises: “Look in your sent folder in your e-mail.” As a mortgage professional, you are answering questions every single day via e-mail, and I would wager some of these answers are repetitive. Chances are the questions you are answering are the same ones your intended audience would have. You now have a beautiful pool of content to pick from to frame what you want to talk or write about.
Have the right approach
Finding guest contributor opportunities can be easy if you approach the process the right way. When you do your initial contact, make sure you let them know that you are a current subscriber to their blog or podcast. Reference a recent blog post or podcast episode and what you liked about it. Try to tie that in with what you would bring to the table as an expert and how you think you could help their audience. The worst thing you can do is approach the podcast host or blog editor like you are doing them a favor. Be humble, authentic, and have a plan with your content, so they know you have made an effort to bring value to their audience.
There are many ways to be known and build authority in your local market. However, being a guest contributor is a great way to get in front of a broader audience that, under normal circumstances, you would not have access to. You also get an added benefit of connecting and possibly building a relationship with the editor or host, where you can become a regular contributor to their platform. Who knows … you may just earn a referral from them in the process.