When it comes to career development in any industry, education and experience alone might not be enough. The key to improving your position within any field lies in your ability to communicate your knowledge base and publicly establish your authority. Some choose to write books as a means to that end, and others book speaking engagements. In the digital age, however, I have found the first and easiest step is to position yourself as an industry expert with online content built to inform, engage and spread.
When colleagues and others in the industry start to look to you for your knowledge and insight toward the current trends in insurance, you will find that your client base will steadily grow. But in order to become an expert, your knowledge and information must be readily available for those seeking it. Your focus must be on creating valuable and industry-specific content, then properly leveraging various social networks to share it.
Generating Good Content Ideas
The first question anyone has when beginning an online content strategy is almost always, “Where do the ideas come from?” In theory, the best place to start searching for great topics for online content is your own experience base. Your own interactions with clients and colleagues can be a terrific guide in your search for compelling stories to share, and your unique perspective is key to giving your content any sense of authority.
That said, it is absolutely necessary to stay current with the industry. Subscribe to insurance journals and read them thoroughly. Trade journals can be boring, I know, but the information provided therein is valuable and an important base for establishing yourself as an expert. Follow already well-known insurance blogs. They will generally have posts about changing trends that are updated regularly.
Talk to others in the industry about changes they see happening, and share what you know with them as well. The exchange of information is vital to becoming an expert, and anything you can do to make that exchange visible (guest blog posts, podcasts, video interviews) will help to build your expertise in the eyes of potential customers.
You should also follow more general trends in the media, including stories not necessarily related to the industry. Research what kinds of stories go viral, and find ways to apply those concepts to your own message.
Creating the Right Content
Once your ideas are solidified (though the idea process should be ever ongoing — do not allow yourself to become stagnant), the concern is the kind of content to be created. In the modern age, we have a wide variety of media at our disposal. Different channels reach different audiences, so you will want to begin by researching your current client base; do they prefer video content or something written? Keep this in mind as a starting point for building a targeted content strategy that will benefit current customers and potential clients alike.
Across any media you use, make sure you are being consistent with branding and voice. It is vitally important that any media produced is unmistakably from you. Think about who you want to reach, and go where they are.
Consider written content, in the form of a blog or articles in insurance journals.
Make videos presenting your information, elaborating on specific topics.
Host a webinar online to allow your clients and colleagues to see and hear you talking specifically about current trends, and think about producing a regular podcast for peer interviews.
As others associate your face and voice with important information in the insurance industry, your reputation will grow.
Planning for Growth
Once you have created the content, you need to share it online. Remember that social media is not a magic wand or an immediate fix-all. Social media requires a hands-on approach, consistency, and follow-through.
First, think of your target audience. Your actions depend entirely upon whether you are reaching to others within the industry, or if you are reaching to clients. Go where the audience is. Learn what their favorite networks are, and learn which social media tools they use most often. Learn what kind of content they are most likely to share on each network. Use that information, and go to them first. If your content is good, then they will share it from there.
It is also necessary to plan for organic discovery and viral sharing. That may mean ensuring you use specific words or phrases in your content so that it can be easily discovered via search engines. Let it be discoverable: do not put roadblocks in front of your content that make it difficult to access or share. What might be most important is consistency. Get into a consistent pattern so that your following will know when to expect new content from you, and keep to that pattern. If you abandon your pattern, your followers will abandon you to find their information elsewhere. However, if you reward your followers with a constant stream of relevant information, they will continue to support you.
The most important thing to remember about all of this is that it is an unending process. You should never stop thinking of new ideas for content, or stop talking to your colleagues about trends in the industry. Create new content on a weekly basis at the bare minimum.
Feel free to experiment.
If blogging does not suit you, find another medium that will. If you are highly personable, then webinars and podcasts can be a great alternative. Make yourself highly present via social media. Answer questions that you are asked and be timely in your responses.
Above all, be yourself, and be patient. If you put in the work, you will see a payoff.