One of my mentors told me once, “If you want someone to point at you when they need what you do, you have to be in the room.”
If you’re building a business, then I think you should hear this advice too.
This mentor was talking about in terms of working for someone else, and literally being in the rooms where big decisions get made and big projects are planned. These big initiatives, of course, need someone to spearhead them. A leader will often tap someone who is in that meeting to lead the initiative.
To get big responsibility and therefore to become indispensable, you have to be in that room.
In our modern age, the idea of a “room” is kind of strange. I can’t tell you the last time I was in a physical office, even though that was the norm for the first half of my career.
These days, the “room” you or your business needs to be in is people’s minds.
Let me explain.
First Build A Skill, Then Tell People
In order to be tapped on the shoulder, metaphorically speaking, for something, people have to know that you have those capabilities.
I was recently reading Million Dollar Consulting (Amazon link) by Alan Weiss, which is a phenomenal book about building a successful solo consulting practice. In that book, Alan shares an experience where he was working with the CEO of a major life insurance company. One day this CEO came to Alan and asked him to find the CEO a good speaker. The CEO was on the program committee of the American Council of Life Insurance and needed a keynote speaker for their annual conference of 250 insurance CEOs and COO’s.
From the book:
“Mike,” I said, “I’m your guy!”Alan Weiss, Million Dollar Consulting, page 36/288 (Kindle edition)
“Alan,” he replied, “this is serious. I need someone who does this for a living.”
The problem, of course, was that Mike knew me solely as an organizational development consultant and really had no reason to explore my background beyond that. I actually had to resell him on my merits. The result was obtaining that keynote and a lot of new business.
The first part of getting known is having a skillset that is in demand. The second part is letting people know you are available for that work.
If you’re here, you have a skillset or business that is in demand. Whether it’s a skill that people will pay you to consult with them on, or a product or service that people want to subscribe to or hire to achieve a result for them, this is a pre-requisite. These usually takes years of training and effort, and unfortunately there are no real shortcuts other than having done something similar before and thus knowing some pitfalls to ignore.
Once you have this, though, the second part is letting people know that you’re doing it, why they should care (because you have deep experience and expertise), and then seeing if they want to work together.
As a quick side note, the “experience” part above is precisely why so many trend-followers, who used to do Facebook Ads and then were crypto experts and now are AI or lead generation experts who will “guarantee 7-19+ qualified leads in 3.75 weeks or you don’t pay,” struggle. They haven’t gone deep in any specific area and stuck around long enough to become the trusted source.
What you’re experienced in doesn’t really matter, other than that to build a company around it the skill or product or service needs to be something others want to pay for.
For example, my experience shows the following, and people can hire me or a company of mine for many of them:
- EditorNinja’s editors have edited close to 4,000,000 words of mostly marketing blog posts in 19 months.
- I generated over 250,000,000 in digital marketing leads for agencies with Credo.
- I led SEO for HotPads.com and Trulia Rentals for 2 years, and have consulted with most large real estate companies on SEO since then.
- I’ve built 4 six-figure service businesses since 2015.
What is your experience? Maybe you’ve given over 300 keynotes. Maybe you’re a foremost expert on salmon runs and how dams affect them. Maybe you’re Eichler’s last living intern.
Whatever it is, write it out. Own it. Have somewhere online that people can contact you about doing whatever it is you do for them.
With your experience, you deserve to be in the room. Now it’s time to get into it.
Then Be Everywhere
Getting into the room online is different from physically being in a conference room, of course.
Online, to be around to be metaphorically tapped on the shoulder when there’s a need, you need to be everywhere.
- Having your own website messaging what you do and for whom you do it
- Social media profiles and content on those
- Colleagues who know what you do and can refer you, or tag you online, if they see an opportunity that you do not
- Industry Slack groups or forums
- In-person conferences
Sometimes, you’ll have to apply a bit of force to get the flywheel turning too. Much like a big rush of water is needed to get a water wheel moving initially, but then much less is needed to keep it moving, doing something big, or a lot of things consistently, is needed to start your path and others knowing what you do.
This could be:
- Writing a book
- Blogging consistently
- Networking with influencers in your industry
- Direct Messaging or emailing a lot of potential prospects
- Getting published in industry publications
The point is – you get into rooms by having a skill or service that is in demand, and then putting it in front of those who are the industry gatekeepers and who can come to trust you over time.
Part of getting into these rooms is having staying power. Not only do you have the skill set, but you’ve also shown yourself to be trustworthy over a long period of time, so long that you can’t help but be world class at what you do.
One of The Best Way To Get Known
Content online is one of the best ways to get known for your craft. I launched my digital marketing career from 2011-2013 by being on Twitter, joining an agency that also got me exposure, speaking at conferences, and most of all blogging twice per week for 2.5 years. I taught people what I was learning. I built tools and had strong opinions. This got me the job at Zillow, and then I was able to continue to ride it as I got laid off and started Credo. I’ve continued to be able to get EditorNinja known with content like this and being “very online.”
If your agency is working with companies who are using content to get known, we’d love to partner with you on that. We can take the editing burden off your plate so capacity is never an issue to growth and producing more content for your clients to leverage. A world with AI content, which enables dramatically MORE content, needs an expert eye to make sure it’s also GOOD content.
Schedule an intro call with our team here to see if we’re a good fit.