There's a difference between being an expert and being seen as an expert.
When people see you as an expert, they trust your advice, recommend your work and they are willing to pay more for your time.
Being an expert is not for everyone. If you say the right things, and show up often enough, people will notice you - if that's what you want. But if you want to build authority, attract quality clients, and command premium prices, expertise is required.
How to become an expert
#1 Know what you're talking about.
There's no soft way to say this, but it's pointless to read the rest of this article if you're just not good at anything. We live in a time when you can learn anything you want. Take advantage of that.
It's not enough to read a few blog posts about a topic. Knowledge comes through deliberate study or hands-on experience, but what you really need is a combination of both.
#2 Keep learning about your area of expertise.
Expertise is not really a destination or a race to be won. It's a process to be embraced.
Experience is not automatically equal to expertise. Even if you are already knowledgeable and experienced, you have to keep asking, “What am I missing? What can I learn? How can I grow?”
Here are some tips to help you improve your expertise:
#3 Create something with what you've learned.
It's easier to consume information than to create, but what you've done is the only proof of what you know. Get results with what you know. Make something to show your knowledge.
If you're a writer, write. If you're a UX designer, design. Don't wait for someone to commission you. Just do it for yourself first.
However, creating is not just about showcasing your knowledge. It's also important to create "assets" that bring other people into your world. (see next point)
#4 Give free value by creating assets
I know it's weird to say "free" and assets in the same sentence, but stay with me.
You do this by creating recurring content within systems that people can easily access. It's not the same as just posting on Instagram. Yes, that is free, but it is also generic. The difference is that your IG post doesn't really have any future value. It does its job, and that's it.
It looks to everyone like you're just giving value for free because that's what you're doing. But beyond that, you're building an audience around a specific theme or experience.
You need to be generous and think long-term to see the point of this, but instead of explaining further, I'll share some examples to inspire you:
#5 ALLOW yourself to be an expert
This one is huge. If you don't see yourself as an expert, nobody else will.
The truth is that being an expert will always be relative. The experts you look up to also have experts that they look up to. It doesn't change the fact that they are experts.
A lot of people feel uncomfortable with the idea of calling themselves an expert, but if you have an area of expertise that you can use to help others, it makes sense to tell them about it.
Don't wait to be picked. Make stuff you love, and talk about it. Find stuff you love, and talk about it.
You mind may be protesting right now:
"I don't know so much.."
"I'm an introvert.."
"I'm not techie.."
"I live under the rock.."
Those things don't matter.
You don't have to be a genius to help someone.
If you have value to give, and a willingness to contribute, that's enough!
You don't have to be a genius to help someone.
How to be seen as an expert
When people see your face or hear your name, something comes to their mind about you. It may be wrong, or it may be right, but their perception is their reality.
While you can't form people's opinions for them, the good news is that you can influence their perceptions.
Here's what you do to make people perceive you as an expert:
#1 Define your expertise.
You can't be the mentor of the whole world, or the coach of the universe. The first step to becoming an expert is to acknowledge the scope of your expertise.
The truth is most of us know a lot about a lot of things. But if you talk about ALL the things, all the time, no one really knows what you do. Pick a focus.
This is not to say you must have only one talent or one topic. Even if you have several topics, there's a way to weave it within your focus.
For now, take a notepad, and write your answers to the following questions:
#2 Teach what you know.
Think about all the experts you know. How did you hear about them? Why do you know them? Because they teach.
Since you're an expert, you obviously know something. But what you know is only in your mind. For people to engage with your knowledge, you have to speak or write.
Whether it’s video, blogging or podcasting, choose a format you are most comfortable with, but content creation is compulsory. There's no getting around that. Errr, I’m even doing this right now! This post has my “expert” tips on how to be an expert.
Many people don't do this well for fear of people stealing their ideas. I find that weird because your ideas are useless just sitting there in your brain anyway. Besides, you'll always have more ideas, no matter how much you give. That's why you're an expert.
#3 Put a price on your expertise.
Create products and packages that people can pay for. No, I'm not only talking about books, courses and speaking engagements. There are several other options such as:
- Done for you services
- Group Coaching
- Strategy sessions
Many people make the mistake of creating products first, before they start looking for buyers. I have one urgent advice for you here: Make sure you have something people want before creating a product around it.
Never, EVER guess. Quality products don’t happen by accident. They don’t rely on guesswork. They’re based on real experience, expertise, and most importantly, real research into the problems customers actually have, and the solutions that will actually solve those problems.
In my book, I delve deeper into this so that you can create products and services that sell themselves.
For this to be profitable, you must develop your own processes. It's not enough to be "highly experienced". What's your process? What's your unique method for getting me from point A to point B? That's what people pay for.
#4 Share results you've gotten for yourself or others.
I hear a lot of people talk about monetizing their knowledge. It sounds nice, but nobody cares about your knowledge.
They care about the results your knowledge will get them. Let people know what your knowledge can do for them, by showing them how it has improved other people's lives (or your own life).
Testimonials, reviews, case studies , LinkedIn recommendations, and success stories go a long way.
#5 Associate yourself with other experts.
Credibility matters. It is the currency of transacting online. But your credibility can't come from what only you are saying about yourself.
Get featured on other people's platforms. Invite other people to your platforms. Don't live in a self-designed bubble. Call it networking, collaboration, strategic competition.. call it whatever works for you, but build relationships with other experts.
Building relationships is like depositing money in the bank. If you have money in the bank, you can withdraw from it when you need to. If not, ...sorry.
#6 Look like an expert.
Yes, this is 2020. Packaging matters.
No matter how brilliant a person is, you will struggle to listen to them if they show up with unkempt hair and a tattered appearance. Appeal is important and packaging makes your work appealing.
Customize every opportunity you get to show up online - from social profiles to business documents. Use your professional pictures, your brand name, your brand colors, your logo, and your own URLs eg. linkedin.com/in/yourname.
Many people think packaging is about vanity, but it’s not. It’s about investing in yourself in a way that communicates that you’re valuable, desirable, and credible.
All the strategies, tips and design in the world can't make up for actual expertise, you just have to know what you're talking about.
But don't stop there.
It is no longer enough to be great at what you do.
You must clearly communicate your value, and show up in a way that convinces others, else, you're just going to be the same as everyone else!
Which of these resonated with you and what will you add to the list?