As I mentioned in my previous article (click here to re-read it), it's much easier to build authority with people in your "adjacent possible" than it is to go further afield where you have few connections.
But what if you have no choice?
What if you move to a new field or geographic area with no existing contact base? Or you have such a burning desire to get into a new field that you just can't let go?
In truth, I was in a similar situation when I started up. My adjacent possible was with consultants, coaches and trainers where I had a good contact base, a track record, and knew the issues and the lingo.
Unfortunately for me, my contact base was largely national and international. Very little locally (and there aren't many big consulting firms in the UK outside of London).
There are, however, a lot of law firms.
So while I was getting work around the country from my adjacent possible, I decided to focus on becoming seen as a marketing and sales expert by local law firms so I wouldn't have to travel so much.
Law firms aren't hugely different to consulting firms.
They're partnerships. Clients hire them based on their expertise and their relationships. They're staffed by smart people who, by nature, aren't all that comfortable with marketing and selling.
In fact, in my favour, consulting firms are largely recognised as being ahead of the game compared to law firms when it comes to business development.
Unfortunately, what I came to understand pretty soon after trying to get meetings with law firms was that if you didn't have law firm experience, most of them didn’t want to speak to you.
So, how to you get people who don't respect your experience to want to meet with you? To think you're an authority?
Well, sometimes you get lucky. You bump into the right person who's open minded enough to give you a start.
Usually you don't. Usually you need something special. Something that's so irresistible to them that they feel they absolutely need to listen to you.
I've found the best way to create something irresistible like that is through your own proprietary research.
Unless you're already an industry veteran you're unlikely to be able to use your experience to come up with something irresistible to them. And even if you did somehow invent a genius idea, they wouldn't believe it was applicable to them because of that lack of experience.
But if you get your hands dirty and interview a a dozen or so potential clients (or people who can provide information of great interest to them, like their customers) about a top priority issue for them, then all of a sudden you've got access to valuable information that they can't get from anywhere else.
And because you're doing a research project, potential clients are happy to meet with you to take part in the research. Its flattering. They'll get access to the results of the research. And it's non-threatening - you're not there to sell to them.
Not everyone will agree to speak to you. But an exponentially higher number will than if you just tried to get a sales meeting with them or offered to do a presentation for them.
Nearly a decade ago when I was trying to make it locally I interviewed partners in law firms about business development best practices.
Before I did the interviews I was just an outsider who knew how consultants did things, but not how things worked in law firms.
After 20 interviews I had more knowledge on what worked in business development in law firms than any individual partner or even teams of them had built in decades.
All of a sudden they were glad to speak to me. They came along to events I spoke at. Most importantly, they "leant in" and paid rapt attention when I spoke.
Suddenly I was an authority.
It took a lot of work, of course.
20 hour-long interviews plus setup, analysis, writing and presenting. And a lot of thinking time. End to end it took me many months before I was ready with the results.
But it's do-able. If you really want to break in to a new field (or you have no choice) it's the best way I know.
(And if you’re reading this thinking "this sounds like too much work", you've got to ask yourself how much you really want to get into that new field if you're not prepared to do the work).
If you're up for it, I have a free guide which will set you in the right direction.
No sign up needed. Just click on the image or link below to download a copy.
It'll take you through every step of the research process. From figure out what to research, to setting up interviews, carrying them out, and presenting or publishing your results. And it includes the interview questions I asked in my research with law firms as an example.
In the next article we're going to talk about the critical component you need to get maximum visibility with your target clients.
For today though, if you think a research project might be the right route for you, download the Authority Research Blueprint and work through it.
That's it for now,
PS You can find the next article on building authority by clicking here.