Now, don’t take the word authority to mean fame or notoriety--it’s really more about possessing personal power--the kind that can attract new business, create more opportunities, and drastically shorten sales cycles.

But here’s the thing you must understand--everyone wants it, and few really know how to earn it.

Authority isn’t something you assign to yourself, it’s something that comes about through hard work and the recognition by some subset of a group you hope to influence that you have something important to give, do, or say. It doesn’t matter how big or little an audience you might command, it’s all about the right people believing in your point of view or way of doing business.

Building personal brand authority is perhaps the most important element of marketing today for a brand, business, or individual trying to gain an edge.

Below are the elements required to systematically take you from where you are today to a place of elevated authority in your industry.

Develop your point of view and methodology

A great deal of the success of any authority-building practice resides in your ability to lead. One of the best ways to demonstrate leadership is to craft and hold a specific point of view--one that you can build a simple, yet highly useful methodology around. You don’t need or even want everyone to agree with your point of view, but you must build it around some key point of differentiation if it is to have the power to serve your brand.

You must be willing to turn your way into the way!

Build your authority journey

Building the kind of trust necessary to help people connect with your point of view and command authority pricing is a process. You must think in terms of building a journey involving set stages, questions, and touch points that you plan to use in guiding prospects and customers from awareness to loyalty.

I’ve been using a framework I call The Marketing Hourglass for years now, as it perfectly orchestrates the stages of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer as a way to view brand building and marketing campaign development. A great deal of the success of your personal brand authority-building approach relies on building campaigns, touch points, processes, and content aimed at moving prospects and customers through The Marketing Hourglass.

Create your content platform

Of course everyone knows you need content in order to survive today, but the right content, delivered at the right time, is the true secret to online brand authority.

People don’t need more content, they need content that helps them understand that you are the only choice for solving their challenge. You must think about content in a very intentional way rather than simply writing yet another blog post.

You need content that is specifically designed to create awareness, to educate, to engage, to convert, to serve, and finally to generate referrals. Each of these forms of content must be mapped into an editorial calendar that allows you to build a theme-based body of content that will serve as an authority-building asset for years to come.

Perfect your connection strategy

If content is the motor that powers the authority journey, connection is certainly the fuel. You must up the value of your content by finding ways to amplify its distribution, motivate others to share it, and use it as a tool to create opportunities and connection.

Just as the need for content has created a great deal of angst among marketers, social media and networks have created a great deal of confusion. In order to build authority online you must have a plan to integrate your online presence with your overall brand- building objectives.

To wade into various social networks without intention is to almost guarantee wasted time and effort.

To build authority through connection you must determine how you are going to listen for opportunities before you ever start engaging. You must get very good at curating your content, your customer’s content, and other people’s content. You must learn how to extend, reuse, and reimagine your content in visual and digital forms. You must get very, very good at sharing, networking, and aggregating content.

And finally, you must have a plan for using all of the rich information you are able to collect to help other people connect. One of the most potent ways to build personal brand authority in any business is to become known as a connector. Using your ability to see deeply into networks is how you begin to develop this very powerful authority-building habit.