Selena Rezvani, a best-selling author who teaches women-focused leadership development, shares her top ten tips for how women business owners can publish thought leadership that converts into business.
Find Your Area of Expertise
Imagine yourself at a dinner party or in the boardroom, leading the conversation. What do you tend to speak about? What area do you know inside and out, keeping up to date on the latest research? What sparks joy or interest in you? How about anger and frustration? Is there something not being discussed in your world that should be? The answers to these questions will lead you to your area of expertise – one about which you are both passionate and well-informed.
Use Your Story
The core of finding your voice is telling your own story. Talk about your struggles, your missed opportunities, your mess-ups, your victories. Get comfortable speaking about your accomplishments and your potential. Part of the unique thing you’re bringing to the market is you, so get personal.
Lead with your heart and your head. Take your audience on a journey with you. And, of course, always leave them with a relevant takeaway.
Content marketing is all about consistency. Strive for a steady drum beat, not a one-time waterfall after which nobody will hear from you for six months. Establish the routine and the habit of putting out content. Make it a part of your life.
If you struggle with consistency, get help. Find an accountability partner to ask you where your content is for the next month. Another option is to pay someone to create content for you. You can hire somebody to whom you’ll give raw content, ideas, and materials, and they’ll help you turn them into engaging posts that will keep your steady drum beat going.
And remember, you don’t have to do every social media platform at once. It’s better to use fewer social media platforms and do them well, with real consistency.
Kick Imposter Syndrome to the Curb
Don’t overestimate what other people can do and underestimate yourself. Everybody is winging it. Try this: pretend you’re the world’s leading expert on something. How does that affect your confidence? Chances are, it gives you the permission to speak with authority that you don’t typically give yourself. So don’t think of yourself as a future expert. You’re an expert today.
It’s okay to be scared. Do it anyway. Get on a stage, write an article, publish a book. Confidence is an inside job.
And for pete’s sake, don’t tell yourself no before they do. You have just as good a shot at succeeding in this as anybody else does. Endorse yourself and other people will follow suit.
Be a Good Trend Spotter
Ask yourself, “what is my target audience hungry for?”. Be a student and observer of what your target audience is consuming. What do they get excited about? What hashtags are they using? Those are your signposts. Corner that market. Write an article or film a video incorporating these things.
Use Your Superpower
Men tend to be the loud ones in a room. They take up more physical and energetic space. But that doesn’t mean that they know any more than you do or are any better suited for being leaders. Because what women do is listen. They’re perceptive to what customers need and want. Their ability to affirm people and clarify what people really want is a super power.
Respect Your Resume
Don’t be afraid to weave your credibility and experience into a conversation. You can use language like, “Based on my 15 years of experience in commercial real estate, here’s what I’ve observed.” Using your credentials like this reminds the room of your power and expertise, which is especially important for women of color, who aren’t always immediately perceived as powerful. Just be sure to do it skillfully, only when it’s truly relevant. Otherwise you’re just bragging.
To avoid freezing up when speaking on stage or in meetings, do what you need to do to feel comfortable. Instead of thinking about what you’re lacking, consider what it will take to make you feel natural and secure. Maybe it’s a pep talk, maybe it’s having notes nearby, maybe it’s doing a quick practice session before your talk.
It can help to recite a mantra before you enter a room: “I 400% belong here. I endorse myself.” You don’t need the endorsement or approval of others. You have your own. It’s also helpful to have a sense of humor. Make jokes. There’s power in finding the humor in a situation that may otherwise be intimidating.
Find Your Why
The best way to find your thought leadership sweet spot is to know your why. So ask yourself “why” five times. Why is your business important? And why is that thing important? And why is that thing important?
Keep going until you’ve drilled down five times. Once you get there, you’ll usually find there is a deeper reason for what you’re doing. It’s not just about what’s on the surface. There’s a deeper cause and mission driving you. If you can articulate it and build your thought leadership brand around that, you’ll be set up for success, because your work will have meaning.
Use Stories as Social Proof
A big part of your value is your past success. But it may be uncomfortable to just outright say, “I’ve closed ten deals just like this.” So instead, use stories as a way to share your credentials and proactively tell about your expertise, pointing back to a time when you closed a deal, did the legwork, or helped a client. Offer reference points: “When I was working with so-and-so around the corner, here’s how that process played out.” “Here is one best practice I have found as someone who has done this many times.” It allows you to endorse yourself without having to feel bad about it.
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I head up a leadership platform for South Asian executive women and founders called LadyDrinks.
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