We’ve been sharing suggestions for how to set up a home office, keep income coming in, and even how to work alongside your kids. But today we also want to explore ways that you can put your business expertise to work—by dispelling rumors and being a voice of reason during this pandemic.
Why is your expertise so important right now?
False information about the coronavirus spreads like a virus itself, especially on social media. Most people don’t mean to share something untrue. But it can be tricky to spot misinformation in times of uncertainty. Add a few trolls and opportunists to the mix who are trying to make a quick buck, and it’s hard for people to know where to go.
That’s where professionals like you come in. By producing good, informative content and participating in online discussions, you can help set the record straight. You can use your industry knowledge to explain what things are really like on the ground and help customers with issues they’re having while stuck at home. And you can do all of this even if your business is currently closed.
I’m not a medical expert—so what am I supposed to talk about?
Even if you’re not in the medical or health fields, you very likely have expertise that will help your customers during this tough time.
If you’re an accountant, your knowledge about how a small business can cut costs or apply for relief will be very relevant and helpful. If you’re a preschool teacher, your ideas for indoor activities for kids would be a huge help for parents right now. There are lighting experts sharing tips on how to look better on Zoom calls, and hair stylists helping clients cut their own bangs from home.
Recently I heard a radio interview with the owner of a toilet paper manufacturing plant. Who knew that his expertise on the toilet paper supply chain would suddenly be newsworthy? But here we are.
Here are some tips on how you can contribute to the conversation.
How to share your expertise and be a thought leader
1. Stick to what you know
We’ve all seen how many “experts” pop out of the woodwork when a news story breaks. It’s human nature to have a strong opinion on something even if we don’t know very much about it.
But in this instance, it’s even more important to make sure that you offer your professional opinion only on topics that are relevant to what you do. Before you post, ask yourself if there are facts or stats you can use to back up your points, or industry publications or training you can reference. That’s where you create value in the conversation.
2. Update your website with current information
Now is a great time to add resources to your website that might help people in need.
Think about questions that you’re already getting from customers and clients, and turn those into an updated FAQ on your website. This can include questions specific to your business (are you open, what you’re doing to respond to the crisis), or more general questions about your industry. Dispelling myths can be a huge help right now.
If you run a restaurant that’s offering take-out, you might give information on the safety precautions you’re taking in your kitchen to keep people safe. If you’re a yoga instructor, coach, or therapist, you could share resources on your website that help people reduce stress.
Lots of people are jumping on the webcasting bandwagon, but if that’s not your thing, written content is helpful too. Done right, the truthful, high-quality information on your website can catch the attention of search engines and people looking for answers.
3. Get your voice out there
The most obvious step is to start participating on social media and in online forums and discussion groups. Keep your tone neutral and authoritative—you don’t want to waste time getting into flame wars. Try to make your responses genuinely helpful and avoid directly promoting your business. If readers want to know more about you they can look you up or click the link in your profile for more information.
You can also start reaching out to the media. Use the press page on your website (or create a press kit if you don’t have one already) to list some of the topics you can talk about. Reporters and bookers are looking for experts and having a website is one of the best ways to get in front of them.
What are you doing that’s newsworthy right now? Maybe you’ve adapted your business to keep serving customers during lockdown or found a creative way to support your community? Many newspapers are asking for stories and perspectives. Share yours, either with your local paper or even with a national one. Reporters are scrambling to find reputable information and to find new and different stories to tell their followers. Make yours one of them!
4. Amplify other expert voices
As a professional in your field, you have the benefit of knowing what the good sources of information are. You may think, “Of course Grocers’ Weekly is better than The Grocers’ Bulletin, everyone knows that!” but the thing is, a lot of people don’t. You can use your platform on social media and on your website to point people to reliable resources, studies, and data.
If you don’t want to do the writing or speaking yourself, seek out experts in your industry who know what they’re talking about and share their work.
5. Think before you share
It’s easy to fall into a trap of sharing untrue information, even by accident. We can all do our part to stop the spread of misinformation.
Remember the golden rules of recognizing false information online. Read the full article, not just the headline. Take a closer look at the source of the article to make sure it’s reputable. Always ask yourself if the person making a claim is trying to sell a product at the same time. Here are more tips for spotting fake news.
When you make it a point to only share reputable information, it helps build your own reputation as a reasonable, trustworthy source of information.
Being a voice of reason is a public service. But it also benefits your career by building your audience and authority. The steps you take here can create a platform for yourself as an honest, knowledgeable broker in your field.
If you’re out of work right now or your business is closed, participating in these kinds of conversations can give you a much-needed morale boost, too. You get to flex your professional muscles, help solve people’s problems, and know that you are contributing to the solutions. And that’s one way to find a silver lining during this period of time.