Gaining gravitas – The top 5 things to do to become an authority figure in your industry

Avatar photo Cedric Voigt - 9th Juin, 2022

It can be frustrating when you’ve risen to the top of your field but you don’t seem to get the recognition you deserve – not from your organisation but from peers or stakeholders. At industry events and industry media opportunities you see the same figures on the stage or on camera holding forth, and you know you could bring additional insights helping elevate the debate.  Here’s a couple of pieces of advices on how to build authority in your industry so that next time it’s you in the spotlight. 

1. Take yourself seriously

This is probably the single greatest but most under-rated element to becoming an authority figure in your industry.  If you’re the one that’s constantly making self-deprecating jokes, not wanting to ‘talk shop’ in the socials after industry events or studiously avoiding being “taken too seriously” then you’ve got some work ahead. If you don’t take yourself seriously, how is anyone else going to? Show that you genuinely care and have a thorough knowledge of your industry and sector, and you have so don’t be shy about it.  Give your brand authority, as well as yourself. Being popular among your peers and taking your role and industry seriously are not mutually exclusive. Work with your communications agency or department to help you define your communication territory. Select 2 or 3 topics you are confident about and can bring information interesting for the audience.  . 

2. Develop a deep understanding of your sector

Rather than just knowing your own organisation well, do some research around your industry as a whole. Read, watch, listen, there are so many articles, studies, podcasts, events… that are dealing with topics you care about. It will help you develop your narrative and enrich your discours to make it less corporate and marketing focus.  Where does it fit into the ecosystem of the economy? What do you anticipate is the future for your sector? How is your sector doing in other countries? Adopt a more academic approach with a long-term perspective. After, you need to find your own way to keep track of this information to include them in a future talk.

3. Mentor someone who is on the same journey

If you meet someone just starting on the journey that you have successfully navigated, why not consider mentoring them. This gives you valuable insight into what it’s like to enter the sector now, you may well make new contacts through your mentee and who knows where they will end up. There’s also an obvious philanthropic benefit as well as it being good personal PR for you as CEO positioning. And remember that you maybe didn’t benefit from it when you were a junior and it could have been helpful. Bring back to the market what it brings you.

4. Cultivate your network of influencers

Morecontacts means more chances to get quoted in an article or invited to an event. To embark on building your authority, first speak to your organisation’s communications  agency and mention that you are keen to give comments, and sit with them to develop the key messages and discuss how it’s integrated in the broader company communication strategy.  Start the ball rolling by writing a comment on a headline industry issue and discuss with your agency.  If you meet media representatives at events, then give them your card and suggest a feature to them that they may not have thought of:  “you know, there’s a lot of xx in the sector at the moment and I thought a feature on that might be interesting for you. Happy to help if I can, I can send you some info.”  

Go gently at first, there’s no need to demand a full page personal profile, and you may not even get a mention initially. By becoming a reliable and thoughtful provider of information though you will be seen as a valuable asset for the journalist, and the first person they’ll call for comment – this is authority marketing.  

Those in the media are incredibly pushed for time and if they have a solid contact in their phone, that’s who they’ll call as it’s quicker than researching someone unfamiliar, which is why the same people get called on often. 

5. Transcend rivalry

Authority figures are not petty. To demonstrate gravitas and a worldly, composed attitude you need to be able to transcend inter-sector rivalry (or even rivalry within divisions of your own organisation). Operate within the bounds of professional confidentiality obviously, but making contacts across a range of contemporary and stakeholder organisations gives you a great picture of the sector as a whole and makes you appear authoritative in yourself; you’re not defining yourself purely within one organisation or job title. 

Authority is earned and your transformation will not be instant, but following these steps will move you towards your goal.  

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