Have you ever happened upon a blog, and thought to yourself "Wow the information on this site is fantastic ... how does the world not know about it?".

Mouse Trap

It happens often. The problem is; content alone is highly unlikely to be sufficient to build any significant authority. If half the battle is creating great content, the other half is all about who ya know. In the end, build a better mousetrap, and the world will not necessarily beat a path to your door!

This post is entirely about getting started by building what I call 'foundation friends' ... which I define as those initial few friends (all fans of each others work) that work together to built the authority and profile of each other. They are the foundation of your authority building effort. Promotion is all about friends, and friends is all about momentum ... so how do you get the initial friends to start the momentum in the right direction? Its not so much about how (though I do offer a few tips below), but the fact that this is a crucial first step.

For those requiring a quick refresher on why authority building matters, I've included a very brief synopsis at the bottom of this post.

Obscurity Stage: Stage 1, Step 2:
At this point in the game, you've finally got a blog up (see the first post in the series - Blogging - Step 1 of the Authority Building Process), and have posted a number of pieces of content that you feel pleased with. You've also likely got ideas, and at least a quasi schedule for posting going forward. Enter Step 2 of the Obscurity Stage.

You now need to start creating awareness of yourself, and your content, ideas, and abilities. You've not yet forged enough strong friendships/contacts to engage in guest posting, writing a column, getting interviewed, or to secure speaking engagements, so you need to build towards that. First, you need to make some good friends ... foundation friends. You need at least some others to respect your opinion, and to help promote you and visa versa. These people will be your home ground, and the base from which your expansion efforts will occur.

Its unlikely at this early point in the process that you'll gain much traction appealing directly to the industry powers that be. They're already inundated by others trying to leapfrog the authority building process, and go right for instant notoriety. Perhaps no harm in trying, but do not be disappointed when it fails.

The Eagles

Friending Strategy
Instead, fall back on a tried and true tactic. Begin forging relationships with others that are relatively new in the space, though that have a niche that is different yet supportive of your own. You can support one another ... strength in numbers so to speak. Also, the more authority (ie. industry friends) one has, the easier it becomes to grow perceptions of authority, and attract more friends passively.

Five friends that may not have been able to make it individually become a formidable group when working together ... on social media sites and elsewhere. Others are likely to want to join that group, or at least to join in the fun ... and the group certainly doesn't have to be formal. The bigger the collective ... the more attractive its members become though at some point that group becomes a micro-community itself, with different authority levels within. Original members will likely have much credibility/authority as they were the founders. My personal preference is for a group of roughly 5.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Your first friends (I like to refer to them as foundation friends) should be your most trusted ... these are the foundation of your original authority/credibility (must be solid). You will lay much more foundation going forward, but need to rely on that initial foundation at the start.
  • start a friend group if one does not exist to join ... ie. connect friends
  • remove (passively isolate rather than making a scene) those friends are not supportive.
  • support and promote one another (in the friend network) religiously!!!!!!! Remember, its about the individuals and not the group though. The more influential individual members become, the more "authority by association" is bestowed on that person's close friends. So essentially your goal is to help build the authority of those you associate with, and your friends should do the same. I'll discuss some of these tactics in my next post

Two quick techniques for finding and friending others are:

1. find industry social media sites if any exist. Then seek out friends obviously looking to make friends too. Some guidelines:

  • most of these social media sites show some sort of users stats ... look for those individuals newer to the site (at least initially), and with a quality blog also (they've got the most potential!), as they're more likely to want to find foundation friends also
  • to initiate a friendship, you've got a number of options:
    • support their social media submissions
    • contact them directly and forge a friendship

2. commenting
Commenting on blog postings, social media submissions, and forum entries is a good strategy to make foundation friends and even to get noticed by the powers that be. If you wish to try to leapfrog the authority building process, commenting on the blogs of industry heavyweights is a good tactic. Lets stick to the tried and true strategy for now though.

Again, we're looking for bloggers of roughly the same authority status as our own. Here are a few tips for making commenting work for you when attempting to establish foundation friends:

  • seed comments on industry friends or potential friends blog posts quickly after they post. Additional comments seem to flow more freely once initial comments are made, presumeably due to inferred credibility. I like to try to spark further comments by initiating a debate by ending with another question.
  • ensure that there is some substance to your comments ... overly generic comments are not memorable
  • don't be confrontational in your comments. You can disagree without being confrontational
  • refer to other posts the blogger may have written, to let them know you're a real reader.

The Next Post:
Once these initial 5 or so Foundation Friends are in place and you're all supporting and trust one another, some interesting possibilities avail themselves. These friends enable you to move out of the Relative obscurity stage, and more into the Intermediate stages where now others become aware of you and you're work. I'll talk in more depth about how each of these Foundation Friends can help one another make this transition in my next post next Wednesday.

Refresher on Authority:
Just to give a quick refresher, being viewed as an authority in any given space leads to others appreciating your work, and linking to it. Accordingly, authority is beneficial in two ways:
a. it generate direct business
b. it generates links, which leads to improved search results, which leads to increased business

In fact it could be argued that a high ranking on Google is merely Google recognizing a site as an authority on a given subject. Then, when others see the omnipotent Google perceiving the site in that light, further credibility is then bestowed on the site. Transference of credibility! Interesting isn't it ... that's really how authority works.