No matter what industry or profession you're in, it helps to be viewed as an expert. Whether you are in shoe or software sales, financial planning or insurance, custom cabinets or couture, customers will find you a more attractive choice if they trust you. Given that today's consumer routinely comparison shops--even in professions that might seem to inherently confer expert status (such as a doctor), providing expert knowledge is one way to help build that trust.

Without doubt, content offers one of the best ways to be viewed as an expert in your field. Even if you already have great reviews on Angie's List or Yelp, content can take you that much father, well beyond personal branding. Content can attract new business, differentiate you from your peers and, even better, transform your relationship with customers from hired gun to trusted ally.

Here are three tips to help you leverage content to build your expertise:

1. Curate to save time and add value.

Face it, most people are not naturally writers. And that's okay. For many professionals, writing is a daunting, time-consuming process and they're just too busy with their day jobs to consider it. Curation offers a wonderful alternative, particularly given that most people are already reading content related to their field. The trick here is to be sure that you don't simply gather headlines that sound good. Choose quality content sources (cite them) and be sure to click through and ensure that the read will be worthwhile for your customers. Consider their needs and help solve problems. Simply sharing relevant content demonstrates that you know what you are talking about and are someone worth listening to. You can deliver curated content through social streams, a regular newsletter, or on your homepage.

2. Get out there and spread the word.

Like writing, public speaking is not something that comes naturally to everyone. However those individuals who truly love what they do and have a passion for it may find that there are opportunities to connect with potential clients in settings other than the classic tradeshow or academic conference. While neither of these are a bad choice, there are other ways to share information that might be less daunting. Consider brief recorded conversations with customers or experts in your field, which can be offered on your website. Reach out to the local public radio and offer to lend your knowledge to conversations on specific topics. Some stations archive these on their site and you can cross-link to them from your web site. Talk to your local library or Chamber of Commerce about giving a talk and record it. If you like what you hear, you can also offer this on your website. In every case, be sure to promote your participation (so people know you are respected in your field) and consider ways in which you might "repurpose" all the preparation you did, maybe for an article summarizing your talk or by creating a short video or podcast with some of your points. to leverage the research you did to prepare for an article summarizing your talk or to create a podcast or video.

3. Get involved in the conversation.

If there are industry topics that are controversial or confusing or social issues you feel passionate about, express your thoughts. As an expert, your opinion matters. Certainly social media is the most obvious choice for this sort of advocacy or activism because you can jump into the fray on Twitter using a hashtag or crosslink to Facebook pages and posts on a topic. However you can also comment on others' blogs or, better still, post your opinion in the form of an original blog or Facebook post, linking to relevant content, statistics, or other experts to support your thoughts. While it might not seem natural for every profession, passion is terribly attractive. This form of content also allows you to be discovered by likeminded individuals, some of whom may well become your next customer.

Writing a regular column or even a steady stream of blog posts might not be right for everyone. However there's no doubt that most professionals want to be found online and viewed as an authority in their given field. So whether you are a daycare provider with an opinion on BPAs or an accountant with tips for business travelers, there are ways to include content in your online presence in a way that will help you reach people, connect with them, and convert them into customers.

Published on: May 7, 2015