Want to achieve expert status? Start here.
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There are plenty of entrepreneurs who dream of launching their big idea, but few of them achieve the expert status often needed to gain support and turn the idea into a reality. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of information audiences consume makes it easy for talented entrepreneurs to appear faceless or identical to their peers.
Expert status requires a commitment to gain knowledge and energy to engage with others in your field, which can be daunting to a busy entrepreneur. But wouldn’t the benefit of a strong personal brand and established credibility go a long way in that pitch meeting you’re sweating bullets over?
Here are five habits to foster in order to cultivate your expertise and influence:
1. Own your field.
Though the time needed to develop expertise can vary, you need enough experience to understand the history of your field, the different perspectives on it, and the direction it’s moving toward. In-depth knowledge of your subject matter demonstrates your credibility and strengthens your contributions to the field.
As your knowledge increases, produce relevant content to share and be open to those who challenge you. Share articles and commentary (yours and others’) on social media. Participate in debates, conferences, and webinars. Ask questions of other experts and be available to answer questions.
Strive to become the go-to person for insights related to your field.
2. Plant your flag.
Once you understand the different perspectives in your field, formulate your own position. If your viewpoint is controversial, stand your ground. People will listen if you’re honest about your opinions and back them up with strong evidence, but a neutral voice is often lost in the noise.
A healthy debate will always draw attention, so be willing to enter into tough conversations with positivity and respect. Offer to co-host a webinar or write a guest blog post for someone with a different viewpoint, then invite them to do the same for you.
3. Share your expertise.
When you’ve made your views and expertise clear, people will look to you for insights when your industry changes or faces problems. Opportunities to share your knowledge strengthen your expert status, so stay in your audience’s line of vision.
True expert status is conferred by third parties, not just declared by you.
Booking consistent speaking engagements, leading workshops, or making yourself a regular presence on TV are great ways to demonstrate your knowledge and to share your contributions to your field. A publicist can help with the heavy lifting here, even if you only engage their services periodically.
4. Demonstrate measurable results.
As your efforts begin to pay off, your speaking and press histories will be invaluable in confirming and increasing your expert status. Highlight these accomplishments on your website and social media pages, and be prepared to give brief, clear explanations of your successes in interviews and conversations with peers.
5. Stay relevant.
If you were expert in your industry in 1998, it doesn’t mean that you’re still an expert in 2016. Keep up with industry changes to keep up your expert status.
Attend conferences, develop new skills, read current industry articles, and participate in industry conversations. Seek out the new voices in your field and learn from their fresh perspectives. Set aside time annually to evaluate how your goals align with the state of your field, and ask yourself what you need to do to grow and maintain your expert status.
Is it time to write a few articles for media placement? Finish off that advanced degree? Take a leadership position in an industry association? Write a book?
Earning respect as an expert is a fulfilling, if at times exhausting, process. By investing your time and energy in developing your knowledge and sharing your ideas and insights with others, you will ultimately build a personal brand that speaks for itself.