Prior to founding my startup, I was already an established authority figure in the world of online marketing and entrepreneurship. Because of this, I enjoyed sharing my experiences and knowledge both online and offline by being featured in leading publications like TechCrunch, Inc, Mashable and many others.
But, I'm a hustler. And I decided that I wanted to get involved with the payments industry, an industry that has long been established with big players. I founded Due, an online invoicing and payments tool, and quickly realized that I was an absolute outsider. Even though I had established myself as an authority figure in one industry didn't mean that I was seen as an expert in another.
In other words, I had to start from scratch.
While I'm still learning about the payments industry, and finally being recognized as an authority figure, I've been able go from a non-industry individual to a payments in just two years by using the following tactics.
Learn about your industry and get caught up with current trends.
First things first, you need to do a little homework about your specific industry. Review some back copies of trade magazines and articles from industry leaders and influencers. Going over these articles and editorials can help you catch up to speed and see what's currently being discussed, as well as help you form your own opinion.
Personally, websites like PYMNTS.com and Tom Noyes' Star Point blog have both been incredible assets for me. Without sources like those, I wouldn't have obtained as much as information as I have, along with being updates on the latest payments trends.
Bonus tip: Play close attention to the ads on these sites and sources. They're usually a pretty good indicator on what the leading businesses are discussing and selling.
Find your niche.
It's tempting to learn everything you can about your industry. But, that's just impossible. Instead of getting overwhelmed, focus on one subject at a time. Attempting to learn too much at one time is just setting yourself for failure. Furthermore, it will help you understand your niche better so that you can become that authority figure in your industry.
Since I had experience with freelancing and entrepreneurship, the easiest place to start when discussing the payments industry was covering topics like invoicing topics for freelance designers and the hottest FinTech startups. More recently, however, I've been focusing more on electronic payments like digital wallets and the benefits of the blockchain.
Become a brand advocate and educator.
This is some 101 information right here. No matter what industry you're in, it's important that you become an advocate and educator for your customers. For me, this meant building up the blog on our company site, as well as my own site. For the last two years I've been writing content that is educational, informative, and related to the payments industry . Whether it's sharing the latest trends in the payments industry or sharing valuable invoicing tips, I want these sites to become go-to-destinations for anyone seeking this kind of information.
I've also made it a point to write for leading financial and tech blogs, such as Fox News and TechCrunch, and have been a guest for reputable podcasts.
I've also spoken at top notch financial events, including an upcoming appearance at FinCon 2016, which happens to be the biggest financial content expo in the world.
Keep in mind that when write a blog post or an article for an industry website or magazine, try to keep the jargon and buzzwords to a minimum. This will help people digest the information that you're sharing more easily.
Once you've established yourself, however, you can focus on creating more complex content for your fellow experts.
Get involved in your industry.
Besides writing and attending leading industry events, you also want to get involved with your industry as much as possible by becoming a member of leading associations and organizations in your industry. You could also volunteer at events, engage with influential industry figures, and join a board of directors. And, don't forget to speak at a local college, host a seminar, and send out press releases to local and national news outlets when you have breaking news.
The more that you're involved in your industry, the more opportunities you have to rub elbows with established leaders and learn a lot of new and amazing things about your industry. By participating in conferences or meetings, you'll be forced to learn as much as you can about your industry so that you can hold your own.
Practice makes perfect.
Did you ever try to play a musical instrument like the guitar? You didn't just pick-up the instruments and immediately start playing "Stairway to Heaven." You have to practice. A lot. Or, according to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, "10,000 hours before you get good."
While you don't have to devote that exact amount of time, the point is, the more your practice, the more experience you'll gain.
Here's to becoming an expert in your industry!