There are a whole bunch of ways to quickly create your own authority.

You could convince your old college roommate to write a testimonial for you. Create a case study on a company you never did any work for. Or purchase likes, tweets and shares from some kid who’s still living in Mom’s basement.

You could claim your book is a best seller. Devise a roster of fake employees (disclaimer: I actually did this one in a previous company so I wouldn’t be the one chasing down overdue payments). Or add a bunch of logos to your website and hope nobody calls them for a reference.

Faking it is easy.

And while I have no way to verify these statistics, I would suggest that nine times out of ten you will get away with it. Unless of course you’re a heart surgeon in which case it might be a little closer to zero times out of ten.

But do you really want to build your business on a foundation of lies and half-truths?

The Truth About ‘Fake It ‘Til You Make It’

The Internet is littered with people claiming to be something they are not. They exaggerate their knowledge. They exaggerate their experience. They exaggerate their accomplishments. And they exaggerate their compensation. All in an effort to “earn” your business.

Is that really the crowd you want to be lumped in with?

Besides, most people who fake it never really make it. Not because of karma or any of that woo woo stuff. But because those who are faking it are not doing the things that are necessary in order to make it. They are too busy covering up their lies. Or worse. They actually start believing them.

So, if you want to make it, stop faking it and commit to taking on at least a few of these instead:

  1. Read: Spend at least one hour each day reading. Harry Potter doesn’t count. It should be something directly related to your industry. Find out who the true experts are and read everything you can find by them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a book or a blog or a magazine article. Read it. Implement it. And make it your own.
  2. Find a Mentor: It could be someone you know locally or someone you find online. They could be within your industry or in a completely different field. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they are someone you respect. Someone that challenges you. And someone at a level you strive to reach. Build a relationship with them by giving first. And then wax on, wax off.
  3. Write: Find a specific topic within your industry that you know really well and get to writing. Start a blog. Write a book. Pitch an article to an industry leading magazine. Not only will this position you as a legitimate authority, it will force you to dive deeper into your topic than you ever have before.
  4. Work for Free: If you need legitimate case studies or a portfolio of your work and you don’t have any clients, reach out to someone who needs help and do the work for free in exchange for a testimonial or case study. If you are thinking that it cheapens your value, guess again. If you were going to school you would be paying for the luxury to do the project. At least it’s not costing you anything.
  5. Attend a Conference: I don’t care what industry you are in, there is a conference associated with it. Don’t believe me? The World Toilet Summit & Expo is a real thing. Spending time at a conference not only immerses you in the most up to date information for your industry, it’s a chance to meet some of its leaders. It might also be a good place to find a mentor while you’re there!
  6. Speak: Similar to writing, start speaking on your topic. It could be at a local networking group, a chamber of commerce, a rotary or any other group of people that need help in whatever it is that you do. Speaking puts you at the top of the pack in terms of authority because it’s not something you can fake. You either know what you are talking about, or you don’t. Make sure you do before you try this one!
  7. Create/Join a Group: Create or join an industry related group on either LinkedIn or Facebook and get involved. Listen to some of the issues people are talking about. If you have a solution, share it. If you don’t, find one and share it. Not only will you help a lot of people, you’ll likely walk away with a few clients over time as you become more known within the group.
  8. Listen to Podcasts: Just like there is a conference for everything, there is also a podcast for everything. Find one related to your business and listen to every episode you can get your grubby little paws on. And if you’re really feeling bold, perhaps you could reach out to them about being a guest. But you’d better know your stuff!

I get it. It’s a lot easier to fake it. Right now. But not long term. Building your reputation, your authority and your business from a place of integrity will always win in the end.

What are some things you do in order to grow as a person and as a professional? Leave your comments below!