Do you feel bullied when you’re stalked on LinkedIn and given an immediate sales pitch?
“We all groan when we get that canned sales pitch on LinkedIn minutes after accepting a new connection request,” said David C. Baker, America’s leading expert on being an expert. “Not only is it slightly offensive and a little inefficient, but there’s something about it that feels out of place, and that’s because professionals aren’t begging for work.”
Instead, Baker said in a phone interview, experts have a certain presence that attracts opportunities. “In this world, the focus is on finding a good match between supply and demand, rather than looking for victims.”
Baker, who I met at his Mind Your Own Business conference 20 years ago, says think of the different ways of selling as rungs on a lead generation ladder. The bottom third consists of things that rarely work, could hurt your brand, but are all you have right now if you’re short on time to find work. You probably won’t find many people who think there’s any point in carrying a sandwich sign on the sidewalk — any more than trolling for uninterested parties on LinkedIn — but sometimes you do what you have to do.
“The middle rungs of that lead generation ladder are where you earn your spurs,” says Baker, author of the award-winning book The business with expertise (I prefer the Audible version). “Your choice is to borrow someone else’s platform or build your own, and the latter choice should always be the default. You write or record and understand that your own clarity is coming in the articulation and not after it. They don’t write or record after You find out something, but okay to find a solution. You give Google some indexable content that naturally draws prospects to your thoughts when they type into a browser, and Google is pretty good at delivering those folks organically.”
But what about the top third of that ladder? The stuff up there that few people ever achieve?
“First, realize that you only have a certain amount of time,” says Baker. “When you climb a ladder, you leave one rung to set foot on the higher one. In the same way, if you can safely climb higher, you replace what you have been doing with something higher that is even more effective.”
Here are some of those approaches that Baker says consistently deliver great results (but only when earned, not marketed):
Speak for an audience. “It can be daunting, and speaking engagements can be difficult, but start easier by hiring a podcast booking agency that will get you two top-tier placements each month,” says Baker. “They take care of everything and you just drop by to be interviewed by an experienced host. Share it widely after every notable performance.”
Cooperation with another company and co-branding a annual research study. “If you’re already well known, maybe contact an association or academic department so they can help with the groundwork and promotion,” says Baker. “This is one of the most interesting options.”
Write a book, but think smaller. “You can create your own ‘Imprint’ and self-publish it on Amazon,” says Baker. “Certain e-books are as short as 5,000 words, and you may already have enough insight that could be reused for that medium. Then give away a voucher for the book in a sales exchange. It has to be real and substantial, of course, or you won’t be any different than this LinkedIn example.”
Gather a round table of a dozen people, three from your customer base and the rest being prospects. “Have it somewhere classy,” advises Baker. “Start in the morning. After the introduction, spend 15 minutes talking about the interesting trends you’re seeing. Then introduce a well-known speaker/author that everyone has heard of. You pay that person and the participants are pleasantly surprised that they can meet in a small group with someone they admired. Then facilitate a discussion between them, each sharing their victories and current struggles, hoping to borrow ideas from each other. The big appeal is two-fold: a small, invitation-only group of colleagues and a well-known speaker. Your happy customers will appeal to you; no need to do it yourself.”
Host an annual small event. “Price it so that there’s a perceived value,” says Baker. “Invite your competitors to speak, but only bring people on stage who have something to say and don’t want to sell themselves to the audience. Be known as the leading company that would confidently arrange such a thing, for the collective good of the audience and not to neglect the opportunity.
Start your own podcast, but do it differently. “Maybe 15 minutes — shorter than everyone else,” says Baker. “Maybe interview people on the street. Maybe analyze something that happened in your area and alternate between something you thought was great and something you thought flopped. The world doesn’t really need another podcast in the sea of millions that already exist, but there’s always room for something interesting, substantial and different.”
Conclusion: In my opinion, everyone has the right to their own beliefs. Although I am religious, in California I teach, “The universe rewards activity.” In the Midwest, I teach, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” I am bilingual. My point is, if you’re an agency owner, business coach, consultant, or solopreneur looking to market like an expert, you should adopt the motto, “If it will be, it’s up to me.” You can’t be a trusted advisor by You say “trust me”. You prove it by sharing ideas your target prospects have never heard of before. Consistency is key.
As Baker puts it, “For people who spread the word in a disciplined manner, good things happen.”