One of the most challenging parts of being a young entrepreneur is branding yourself as someone with experience and expertise in your field. This list is a compilation of ways to grow that credibility and experience so you can look like a rockstar. Remember, each of these tips are building blocks to get to the highest level of expertise. Work your way up the rungs, establishing greater authority with each new experience you take on.
1. Grow your Twitter following. Yes, social networking is about growing relationships, but if you want to look like somebody important, boost your numbers. Who can argue with 10,000+ followers?
2. Claim your domain name and put up a landing page. YourName.com means you have a presence. Presence=credibility.
3. Improve your SEO. Search engine optimization is critical to being known. Anybody important should be easily found on Google.
4. Get reviewed on LinkedIN. Want people to vouch for you? Have them review your work on LinkedIN. Only a small percentage of users have reviews; this will make you look super professional.
5. Have a serious bio. If you bio seems weak at first, that’s okay–remember, each of these steps are building blocks. Each achievement you have, put it on your “About Me” page as you build experience.
6. Have a blog. Have something worthy of other people reading? Get blogging. Blogging shows commitment to something and after a few months it’ll be a great showcase of your work and knowledge.
7. Get comments on your blog. Important people get comments on their blog–if what you are saying is worthy of a comment then you must be somebody.
8. Have professional photos. Use them as your avatars, put it front and center on your blog and use them when you get featured places or write as a guest. Every professional has a professional photo.
9. Link up what people are saying about you or your company on search.twitter.com. It should look like this: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=under30 This search will show that people are conversing with you and prove that you have a voice on a subject.
10. Bonus: Attend events and snag photos with celebrities and or industry leaders. While not everyone will believe you are best friends, you are instantly credible by being at the same place as someone famous.
11. Guest blog. Learn how to pitch from Ramit Sethi author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich here.
13. Write for About.com or any other publication that compiles How-To articles. This proves you have expertise on a subject.
14. Make social media friends and contribute back and forth on each other’s blogs. This will allow you to gain exposure to a new audience.
15. Have a writing sample. Make it your best work and showcase it. Blow your reader away and you’ll be able to land any gig.
16. Write for Entrepreneur Magazine. They are open to submissions, so after you establish a bit of experience and credibility, shoot for a published magazine. Check out their guidelines here.
17. Write a local column. Contact your local newspapers, they can hardly afford to pay their writers anymore, so they’d be happy to give your work some exposure. Soon you may have a syndicated column!
18. Write an e-book. Write it in Word or Google Doc, save it as a PDF and blast it out to your followers. Setup PayPal on your blog if you want to charge for the book.
19. Publish a real book. Why not? The thoughts in your head won’t make you any money unless you do something about it. Being a published writer creates huge street-cred.
20. Start a newsletter. A little old school during the age of blogging, but don’t underestimate the power of an email newsletter. Give your newsletter a great title and you’ll sound like you are the publisher of a very important chain of communication.
21. Bonus: Submit your work to freelance sites and start getting paid like http://www.associatedcontent.com
22. Start local. Have a good story? Talk about your experiences at local high schools, colleges, or chamber of commerce. This is the start to every speakers resume.
23. Put on a seminar. Know something others want to know? Go to your local library and organize a seminar. This is especially good marketing for self employed people such as doctors, lawyers and accountants. Teach skills (for free) to people who might do business with you later.
24. Speak at a conference. Find out about an upcoming conference and ask to speak. Don’t wait around for someone to ask you to speak, it’s not going to happen.
25. Sit on a panel. Panels are great first time speaking experiences. You aren’t the center of attention, but you can chime in on a subject as necessary.
26. Be a moderator. You still seem important, you still get to claim participation in a major event, but you weren’t the expert–you just asked the questions. Also a great way to meet the panelists and speakers.
27. Bonus: Once you establish enough credibility, build a portfolio, get paid to speak and register with a speaker’s bureau.
28. Start a podcast. Have a lot to say? Record audio of it. Host people to come on your podcast and share their expertise.
29. Get your own radio show. Jump on BlogTalkRadio and find an open slot in your niche. Anyone can create a show about what they are passionate about.
30. Be a guest on a radio show. How? Google your niche, find the shows and ask to be a guest. Email the host with a couple ideas on what you would like to discuss, how it would benefit their audience and why you are qualified.
31. Host a conference call. Use FreeConferenceCall.com and have a few experts chat. The software lets you download it after the call is done and save it as a .MP3.
32. Bonus: Have an opt-in mailing list that sends your subscriber a free download of one of your calls. Building your mailing list is extremely important.
33. Start a video blog. Want experience on camera? Fire up your webcam and start getting comfortable. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Video blogging shows confidence.
34. Go live on uStream. Start your own live show, talk about your industry and get people to come chat about it. It’s free and a great way to meet people.
35. Host a webinar. Claiming you are the teacher of an online seminar is a great thing to boast about. Using the software and teaching the material solidifies your credibility.
36. Post your video resume. When someone punches your name into YouTube they should be able to find something just as when they google it. Take control of your online reputation and tell the world who you are.
37. Conduct Skype Interviews. You need 3 pieces of software: Skype, CamTwist and QuickTime Pro if you are using a Mac. Video chat with anyone in the world, toggle the camera back between yourself and the interviewee with CamTwist and record it in high quality using QuickTime Pro. Put these on your blog.
38. Take a TV production course. Having certificates is a great way to boost credibility. Check your local colleges.
39. Start an Access TV show. Your local Axis channel probably runs a lot of junk anyway. Go to town hall and find out how you can get involved. If you are a small business owner this is a great way to market.
40. Pitch local news. Want to come on and talk about your expertise? Pick up the phone and talk to your local producer. Once you say you’ve been on local news, you are much more likely to book bigger appearances.
41. Pitch the big shows. Oprah, Leno, Good Morning America–they are all looking for guests. This is tough, but the worst thing you can do is not try. Go to their websites and fill out the form. Spend some time to make your story sound compelling.
42. Bonus: Create a highlight reel splicing together all your best work on video.
43. Get involved in local organizations. There are thousands, check for business networking groups, chamber of commerces, economic development centers, business bureaus, urban revitalization groups. Having your name associated or sitting on the board gives you a great line in your bio.
44. Volunteer at a conference. Want free admission to a conference? Help run it. Contact the people organizing it, volunteer to be security, set up chairs, whatever gets you in the door. This can save thousands of dollars in admission.
45. Teach kids about money. No person is complete without a well rounded background. Become involved with something larger than yourself.
46. Teach business skills in urban areas. Dressing for success, interviewing, and business planning are very rarely taught in the public school system. Do something for someone who isn’t as fortunate as you.
47. Bonus: Organize the volunteer effort yourself and credit yourself as the leader.
48. Get your previous employer to write a letter of recommendation. Have them address it “To Whom it May Concern”.
49. Have a client write a sentence or two testimonial and post it on your about me page.
50. Create a “What People are Saying” about xxx on your website. Ask your professors, co-workers, employees and speaking audience to write short blurbs about you if they respect your work.
51. Use your Twitter favorites as your testimonials. Someone say something nice about you on Twitter? Favorite it. You can link to this in your “What People are Saying” page.
52. Get video testimonials. With today’s technology it is just as easy for people to flip on their webcam and send you a good review than it is for them to write one. This proves that a real person actually said these things.
53. Bonus: Make nice with people who are credible and have them write testimonials. People with big titles work well: CEO, PhD, Dean of Business School, Chairman, Author, etc.
Competitions & Awards
54. Serve as a judge. Find out about a competition and ask to judge. Nothing solidifies credibility like judging others.
55. Follow your local business publications, they are always giving out local awards for something. Put some effort in when submitting yourself or your company. This is something you can use for years.
56. Check your local Earnst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards. Visit their site here.
57. Call your chamber of commerce and ask what type of awards are given out. All organizations give awards, find out what the awards are and if you think you can win, join!
58. Make friends with bloggers who give awards. Now anyone with a blog can write the “Top 30 Twitters Under 30“.
59. Bonus: Use your social media friends to win your awards. Anything that needs a vote or a nomination is great for people with a social media following. Ask your friends to put in a vote!
Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO urging people to drop the 9-5 and get passionate about something. Follow him on Twitter @MattWilsontv as the Gen-Y spokesperson looking to help every young entrepreneur on the planet.