Are You a Pioneer or a Settler?

Are you a pioneer or a settler? Do you blaze trails, follow them while they’re still rough, or wait until there’s a nicely paved road?

Being a settler is easy. You just tread down the same old path everyone else has, making sure it’s safe. But being a pioneer is tough. You’re the first to pass this way, you’re not sure if you’re heading in the right direction, and some days you’d swear you’re going the wrong way. But the rewards are well worth it.

So how do you pioneer your new niche? How do you become a leader in your field, especially when there is no niche, or the people in it are not connected? In this case, it’s actually easier to be the pioneer, rather than to be one of many. By the time the settlers are finally getting involved, there’s a traffic jam on the road the pioneers have paved. But by this time, you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

Becoming a Pioneer

Here are a few tools and techniques you can use to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field. Before you start, make sure you have identified your niche, know who the players are, and actually have some content on your blog or website.

  • Find your flock. Use,, and Twitter Search to locate them and start following them. Avoid those “get 2,000 followers per day” spam programs, and earn your followers the honest way.
  • Talk to strangers. Read and comment on the blogs of other people in your industry. If there aren’t any, find logical allies to your industry. If you manufacture marbles, and you’re the only marble manufacturing blog out there, find marble collectors and marble players. Leave comments on their blogs and respond when they leave comments on yours. Not only do you build up some link juice, you create relationships with potential customers.
  • Share knowledge. If you find articles that would be of interest to your audience, share it with them on Twitter and your blog. Write commentary about the articles on the blog, and share those as well. If you can become a source of knowledge, people will look to you for answers.
  • Consider video. Gary Vaynerchuk of and the author of Crush It, has built a social media footprint like an elephant’s by using video to sell and promote wine. Do video posts of you sitting at your desk, pontificating about industry goings-on. Publish excerpts of you speaking at conferences and events (this is also useful if you’re trying to build a speaking career).
  • Build your contact list. As you meet new people, keep your contacts organized in Gmail. If you use Outlook, sync it up with Gmail and keep that list fresh. Gmail is the go-to contact list by every social networking tool out there. Want to find friends on Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube? They’ll import your Gmail contact list with no problem.

These are just a very few steps to get yourself started finding your niche. I haven’t even touched on LinkedIn or creating an industry-related social network yourself. But these are enough steps to get you started.

What other tools and steps do you recommend? Leave a comment, and we’ll try to feature it in a future blog post.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons