Sunday, January 31, 2010

Respect Your Authority

This past week I had the pleasure and honor to be a keynote speaker at a Social Media event for small business owners.

When I step onto a stage for a lecture or a panel or a speech, my first thought is always the same - these people believe that I know something they don't. They are giving me Authority over them for this period of time. Let's see what I can do with it!

One of the first things I do with my Authority is point out that everyone in the room has given it to me. I want them to understand that without their consent, I'm just a stranger in the room, talking at them.

The second thing I typically do is abuse this Authority. :-) In the middle of corporate orientations, I make people stand up and stretch. At Social Media events I interrupt my own speech to have people introduce themselves to the people around them. I break everyone out of the pre-set belief that *I* am the most important person in the room. Ironically, because I'm willing to turn the spotlight back on the audience, they assign me even *more* Authority.

I can do all that because, for that period of time, I am the Authority in the room..

I've said it before, you know more about your business than anyone else. You know why you do the things you do, and how. You know where you have come from and how you got there and where you're going. Respect Your Own Authority.

Once you've come to grips with the fact that you are an Authority, get out there and tell other people, too.

Join a professional association, go to an event, join a group on LinkedIn or some other network - share your knowledge.

Sharing knowledge is not the same as giving your work or trade secrets away for free. Sharing experiences, mistakes, challenges and successes with your peers and especially young folks coming up in your industry puts you in the position of "Someone Who Knows." The more open you are - and the more open to accepting new ideas, so you don't become an old fuddy-duddy who only talks about the good old days - will increase your Authority.

You can take your Authority on the road. If you're inclined to do so, do a talk for your Chamber of Commerce or that professional association. The more you share, the more your Authority grows, and your CV will reflect that as you ad these events to your list of accomplishments.

Being the mayor of your local bagel place on Foursquare may be fun for a second, but being the Authority in your industry is priceless.

Respect Your Authority and other people will come to respect it, as well.
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