From an SEO perspective, building authority only works if you have some sort of web presence for people to capitalize on. For the purposes of this column, it’s assumed that you have a blog, a social media presence, or both. Actually, you want to have both, because blogging and social media can reinforce each other in powerful ways:

Search engines try to measure personal (or organizational) authority the way people do. Your ability to obtain real links, fans, likes, +1s, or shares will be driven by that perception. In other words, don’t go buying likes, +1s, links, shares, or whatever.

In this column, the words “authority” and “influencer” will be used somewhat interchangeably. People or organizations that are seen as authoritative generally have a significant amount of influence on others.

Behave Yourself!

The first set of considerations relate to how you’re perceived. These are an important part of the process.

Gain Trust

You can’t be thought of as an authority if you aren’t trusted. Of course, it is possible to be trusted by one group of people, and not others. For example, Ann Coulter is trusted by right wing Republicans, but not by Democrats.

Be Consistent

If you establish a strong position on something, think long and hard before changing it. While there are times when you should change such a position, if you frequently flip flop on the positions you take, then you’ll have problems. People need to know, in general, what to expect from you.

Show Expertise and Value

If you have no value to bring to the conversation, then the authority will not follow, regardless of whatever else you do. In fact, you need to be providing value on an ongoing basis, not just once.

Be Natural and Authentic

Being natural and authentic makes being consistent easier to do. Having to remember what position you took on something when it isn’t your true opinion is asking for trouble. People can sniff out when you aren’t being true to yourself.

Solve Problems for Others

It’s great to show expertise, but if no one is actually helped, who cares? Look beyond demonstrating your skills.

Go out of your way to help people with a need. Show that you solve real problems. It’s great PR.

Help Promote Others

As you gain more exposure, make sure to give back. Promote the works of others. Link to them, tweet them, introduce them to people, and share their content.

Promoting the content of recognized authorities is a double win. It’s very likely to provide value to your audience (they are perceived an authorities for a reason), and it helps you build a relationship with them.

Be Social

Socializing is a great tool. Hanging out with people and being likable counts for a lot! This is a great way to build trust, and get introductions that are helpful to you. Besides which it’s fun!

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