Contractors' Questions: What if I'm too modest to market myself as a Thought Leader?
Contractor’s Question: I’m an introvert by nature and quite a modest person in business, so I hate seeing people claiming to be ‘experts.’ But it’s now been put to me that by not doing the same, so by not declaring myself an expert, I’m holding myself back! Do I really need to be an ‘expert’ just to put myself out there a bit more?
Expert’s Answer: Modesty is an enviable trait to have in many situations. But unfortunately, it’s not the best quality to have to grow a business, even a small contractor business like yours.
Business development? You’re probably doing it already!
Most contractors I come across, unless they use an umbrella company for all their assignments, are in the bracket of ‘a business’ and so, as an adviser to them, I work on the assumption that like any other business, a contractor’s business needs to be grown.
Actively growing an enterprise is a signpost away from IR35, because it helps demonstrate being ‘in business on your own account.’ And to further extrapolate this point, nearly all contractor businesses embroil themselves in some form of business development, sales or marketing activity, which by its very nature, requires said-businesses to ‘get out there’ and, in the case of the businesses’ owners, to sell themselves.
One way to do this is to embrace the dark art of Thought Leadership! The aim of you engaging in Thought Leadership is to encourage your target audience to view you as an expert. It is actually highly likely that, if you’re operating as a contractor on an outside IR35 basis, you do possess considerable expertise, and that your skills are superior to the equivalently-skilled permanent staff, although you may be so highly skilled that such equivalents do not even exist!
While the idea of Thought Leadership might curl your toes, it is done with the idea in mind that a client is more likely to engage the services of an ‘expert’ rather than a ‘non expert’ or a generalist.
The best of the best?
Remember, promoting yourself as an ‘expert’ does not mean you have to be the most talented or the most knowledgeable person in the entire field of your skill or area. Instead, I suggest it requires you to have some useful, beyond-the-norm insights to share with the world that showcase your strong knowledge, or set of skills, in a specific field.
You may not take to it naturally, but the very act of beaming your knowledge / expertise on to LinkedIn and elsewhere fosters an air of authority and develops your profile as an expert. The more you beam out your expertise, the more familiar and accepting you will become of your newfound ‘expert’ status, and the more you will likely develop your own confidence, network and expertise. In short, it’s a self-fulfilling philosophy!
PIP and tell
The two key facets of Thought Leadership are:
- Developing your own Personal Intellectual Property (PIP) – this involves defining your expertise, formalising its physical form and giving it a name.
- Beaming your expertise to the world – this involves writing articles, guides, blogs and whitepapers and delivering presentations, talks, seminars and webinars.
Once your expertise is out there, your industry profile will grow, your personal brand will improve, and with a bit of luck, so will your business!
For a more detailed look under the bonnet of Thought Leadership, join our upcoming webinar on Feb 17th at 7.15pm here.
The expert was work-winning expert and Thought Leadership coach Matt Craven, founder of the CV & Interview Advisors.