When faced with a new endeavor, many companies believe that they’re standing alone on an island. Typically a lack of experience contributes to this feeling. Perhaps it comes while innovating new products, trying to launch a new service, or attempting to market a product or service effectively. But a feeling of helplessness in this day and age means you’re probably looking too far inward instead of outward.
Can you identify your weaknesses?
The smartest companies know their weaknesses, and they bridge those gaps by relying on industry experts to fill these gaping holes. Professional experts can range from product specialists to industry pros to seasoned marketers. But even if you’ve looked in the mirror and you have a strong sense of your deficiencies, now you have the tall task of finding the right experts to help you.
The following is a quick list of the best ways to find them.
1. Online search engines
This one is obvious. That’s probably because it’s the easiest. Anyone can type in a keyword and uncover a wealth of professional experts. While Google is by far the most popular for searchers, other search stalwarts like Bing and Yahoo! can uncover gems that might work for you and your business. This could lead to individuals, or comprehensive sites that lead to individuals. For us, Cotton, Inc. is a huge resource.
Staying online, YouTube is vast video resource that is often taken for granted. The beauty of Youtube is that you can find industry enthusiasts that review products or post informational videos, and you’re able to place a name with a face. The only downside is you’ll have to search patiently and sift carefully to find expertise gold. But you’ll know it when you see it.
3. Online forums and blogs
Much like with Youtube, many experts traffic in forums or moonlight as bloggers. Once again, they’re often doing it for the love of the subject matter, so when you stumble upon the right aficionado, they’ll probably be eager for work in their respective field. Sometimes you’ll have to break down initial anonymity, but much like with Youtube, you’ll know an expert’s words when you read them.
The professional social media standard, LinkedIn beats out its more widely popular brethren when you need quality, not quantity. While Twitter and Facebook may have more users, LinkedIn is where companies turn for expertise, and the resource has quietly made updates over the last couple of years that have improved usability, and created stronger content streams.
5. Industry events
The first four in this list have been Internet-centric; the second half is far more hands-on. While online resources have their place, they can also be lazier. Though industry events are far more time-intensive, they allow you face-to-face meetings and conversations that serve as the start of lasting industry relationships. Attendance at trade shows and conferences is a must, especially in the consumer goods industry. You’ll be surrounded by experts, whether you attend World of Wipes, INDEX, or another event.
6. Industry publications
Subscriptions to industry publications provide businesses with up-to-date information on their field of expertise. Someone has to write those articles, right? Mining the authors of the publications relevant to your company will provide you with an ever-expanding list of experts to reach out to.
7. Industry colleagues
Leveraging the contacts you already have is always a great way to expand your network. Sometimes this is as simple as asking employees within your own company that work in different divisions, or branching out to colleagues at other businesses that might be willing to lend a valuable resource.
There’s a reason Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is required reading for many company execs. While we wouldn’t preach ruthlessness, monitoring your competitors is simply smart business. Whether that’s uncovering the marketing firms that they use, or plucking up a former employee to fill a need within your company, viewing your competitors through this lens can make them an asset—and keep in mind they’re certainly keeping their eye on you.
When hunting for experts, use a balanced approach
Relying too heavily on one of the options in the list above is a surefire way to miss out on experts that can be difference-makers for your company. While we mentioned it above, most research today is done online. This is logical since it’s much faster, and you never have to leave the cozy confines of your office. However, becoming overly reliant on those methods means you’re not putting in the legwork necessary to team up with experts that can give you a true competitive advantage. Once you’re committed to putting in the time, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can find experts in the nonwoven industry, and how they can help you develop the products you’ve imagined, and then market them effectively.
Want to see how partnering with the right expert can make a difference? Our white paper “Game Changers: 8 Cotton Products that Impacted the World” is now available for download.