Establish Yourself as an Expert - dummies

Establish Yourself as an Expert

By Susan Chritton

Being known as an expert provides credibility to your personal brand. Expertise establishes why people will initially want to engage with you and why they will think of you, and your brand, to solve their problems.

Examine your many characteristics in order to uncover your unique promise of value. That promise identifies what you want to be known for and the behavior you authentically demonstrate to achieve your goals.

Find your expertise

To be known as an expert at something, you often just need to own what you do well. And if you aren’t sure that you do anything particularly well (yet), take the initiative to read and study about an area of interest so that you can claim that area as your own!

Here are a few suggestions on claiming your expertise:

  • Become very knowledgeable about your chosen area of expertise. Obviously, you need to know what you’re talking about to be an expert!

  • Find a niche (your distinct segment of the market) that you can claim for your area of expertise.

  • Seek endorsements from your boss, coworkers, or clients attesting to your expertise. If you’re in business for yourself, you may want to add these statements as testimonials to your website — but remember to ask for permission first.

  • Dress like the expert that you are.

  • Build relationships that support your area of expertise.

  • Exude confidence in your knowledge. In other words, act confidently. Even if you don’t feel confident, fake it until you believe it!

Use your niche to find your uniqueness

Responding to the directive to “be unique” can be tough. What if you don’t know how to stand out? How do you figure out your niche?

The best place to start is with what you know. What do you know how to do that few others know how to do? What segment of the population do you understand better than most people in your field do?

Often people overlook the everyday parts of their lives that they know and do well in. For example, maybe you really understand a specific group of people (such as senior citizens or teenagers or people who love to shop). Maybe you’re the best person in your office at producing Excel spreadsheets.

Maybe you shine when it comes to keeping everyone organized and moving forward. Maybe you’re the office cheerleader who knows exactly when to lighten the mood and help everyone blow off steam. Your unique combination of work experience, life experience, and personal characteristics create the foundation for determining your niche.

When you’re entering or reentering the workforce, pinpointing what makes you unique is especially hard. Take the case of Kate, a new college graduate with a business major looking for her first job. She had the same sort of education that thousands of other recent college graduates had. However, she had also traveled to 26 countries by the age of 22.

When Kate was interviewed with the international division of a large retailer as an entry-level financial analyst, they were thrilled to find someone with her experience. Her interest in travel created a niche for her that she hadn’t even considered.

To be known in a certain niche, you’re wise to choose an area of expertise or market segment that isn’t saturated. If you’re a personal trainer, for example, you may get lost in a sea of generic personal trainers. If, however, you’re a personal trainer who specializes in rugby players in a market with an active rugby league, you will create a powerful and distinctive niche.

Stay authentic

As you prepare to take your expertise out into the world, make sure that you walk your talk. You don’t want to be someone who talks a good game and has no substance to back it up. Personal brands are built on authenticity. You need to be real and offer real expertise.

You don’t need to be a Supreme Court Justice to claim your expertise as an attorney. However, you do need to know something well enough that you can build a communications plan around it and back it up with substance.

If you’re just emerging as an expert, start small. Be an expert in a small arena before widening to a larger audience. You can gradually build your presence to a wider group of people after you’ve established yourself.