Michelle Bizon is a recent Ithaca College journalism graduate, passionate about social media, communications and higher education. At any given moment, she’s probably cheering on the Phillies, obsessing over NCIS or baking … and tweeting about said endeavors. Her daydreams usually involve some combination of rock climbing, hiking, the Poconos and Scotland.

Komodo dragons were lucky. They grew to be gigantic by having a monopoly of the carnivore niche on the Indonesian islands they inhabit. Most businesses aren’t so fortunate. Still, with a bit of time and effort, you can scale new heights in positioning yourself as a leader in your niche.

1.  Target hot real estate. Whether you’re building your online presence from the get-go or just looking to beef up your reputation, it’s important to know who shares your niche. (Note: This goes beyond competitors. Look for complementary services — like summer camps would be for sporting goods, for instance.) Research what they do online and where they do it to learn which sites and keywords to focus on. This tactic applies to your target audience’s surfing habits too.

  • Write guest posts on industry-related blogs to gain access to new audiences.
  • Register your moniker on directory sites under targeted keywords. Use WeFollow and Twellow for Twitter, for example.
  • Network at conferences, happy hours, meetups and tweetups. Consider planning or sponsoring such events to bask in the increased publicity.
  • Collaborate on projects with other thought leaders to promote your brand by association.

2. Show some love. You obviously aren’t going to give away your services for free, but it takes a little sharing and caring to engage audiences. Don’t treat your interactions like cold-blooded sales pitches; rather, the objective is to build rapport and offer genuine assistance.

  • Answer industry-related questions using forums like LinkedIn Answers.
  • Keep an eye on Help A Reporter Out for opportunities for media coverage.
  • Present at those conferences you’ve been attending.
  • Teach others about your area of expertise. Use startups like Skillshare* or Dabble to design, market and teach classes in your city.

3.  Be a source. Your goal in ramping up your reputation is to be the go-to source of information for your customers. Brainstorm topics that are complementary to your service and build your content around them. For example, if you’re a home security business, write blog posts on where to avoid storing your valuables or why your dog isn’t a sufficient security system. If you avoid puffery and produce relevant, useful information, you’ll gain loyal brand ambassadors.


The content you create will serve as a subtle spokesperson for your brand. It very well may tip the scales in your favor for potential customers making purchasing decisions. And you won’t even need to feast on carrion like the Komodo dragon does to thrive.

(*Full discloser: I’m a Community Ambassador for the Philadelphia chapter, meaning I volunteer my time to help bring Skillshare to the City of Brotherly Love.)