Publishing articles is one way to build your reputation as an expert. In an earlier posting (Hey! That’s Going Too Far), I described a formula for producing an article efficiently. Here is another.
Anecdotes attach to professionals the way that burs do to dogs. Each project a professional works on gets reduced to one or more anecdotes used to show prospective clients the depths of her experience, teach a lesson, or entertain a colleague. You can put your anecdotes to one more use as the material around which you write an article. I call this the Four-Stories Formula (unless there are only three stories, in which case I call it the . . . Can you guess?).
Many years ago, a colleague and I wrote an article entitled “Secrecy in Site Searches, Is It Necessary?” using such a formula. The article explored the need for secrecy when a company sought a location for a new plant or office.
The first paragraph questioned the need. Four anecdotes followed, each describing a problem that resulted from discovery of a company’s plans. Each anecdote described the kind of operation being located, the way the company’s identity and plans were discovered and the consequences. Each case illustrated a different consequence; escalating real estate prices, political pressure to select a suboptimal location, labor problems and . . . I no longer remember the fourth outcome. A final paragraph concluded that, yes, secrecy is necessary. A sidebar listed things the site seeker had to do to ensure his identity remained unknown.
It was a simple piece for a trade magazine, but we knew it was spreading our reputation as experts when, before we could give it to them, clients showed up for site visits with us with the checklist from the sidebar in hand.
The formula can be adapted to almost any area of professional practice. For example, an article could be built around people’s changing circumstances and how they resulted in the need to revise their wills. Another could show how different building conditions result in different ways to reduce energy consumption.