When I first started Cybergrrl Inc. out of my studio apartment with no capital, I knew I needed to get the word out about my Web development and Internet strategy services company. What did I do? I decided to call myself an "Internet expert." Back in 1995, who was going to argue with me? I sent a query to the publisher of a neighborhood newspaper, pitching an idea for a column about the Net.
Timing is everything, and at that time, the publisher had just decided they needed an Internet column. He gave me the choice of $25 per column or an expanded byline, which basically read like a small classified ad for my business, including contact information. I chose the latter, and within a few months, my first major client called after reading my column.
Sandra Gassmann of Sage Marketing Consulting Inc. (www.sagemarketing.com) in New York City agrees with my strategy. Says Gassmann, "I wrote articles on varied Web marketing topics that I knew were newsworthy. I submitted them to editors of trade publications and got write-ups. Now they're finding me as a result of all the press. Be patient, target the right papers, and have a good bio."
Today, positioning yourself as an Internet expert ends up putting you in a crowded arena, so you need to narrow your niche. Put out a press release to let the media know you're available to comment on the topic.
How else can you establish yourself as an expert? Lisa Skriloff of Multicultural Marketing Resources (www.inforesources.com), also in New York City, suggests this: "Get involved. Join a committee in your trade organization and help create a program. The media will see your name on the flier. Instant expert status!"
Aliza Sherman is an entrepreneur and author of Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (Ballantine Books, $12, 800-726-0600). She is currently working on her next book and new company.