If you want to be perceived as a specialist or domain expert, then this post is for you. The web and social media are teeming with people who call themselves experts, influencers, pundits, content creators, growth hackers, social media strategists, productivity ninjas, and whatnot.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am not saying anybody who’s promoting themselves as one of the above is a scamster or a charlatan. On the contrary, I firmly believe that if you have a special skill, you must promote it. However, it’s important that you carve a space for yourself so that people see you as one-of-a-kind.
See, when it comes to solving a specific problem, people want to turn to experts. When your six-year-old suffers from an acute toothache, who are you more likely to see? A dentist or a pediatric dentist?
That said, this is not an easy goal to achieve. Given the cutthroat competition everywhere, you must play your cards right to be perceived as a specialist.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a doctor, lawyer, accountant, auto mechanic, business owner, or consultant. Being seen as an expert in your niche helps your business and your career.
The best way to position yourself as an expert is by using a strategy that leverages your existing network, social media, and other tools that technology makes available.
Here’s the 11-step process to position yourself as an expert:
1. Promote yourself unabashedly
Let’s say you are a bit of a polyglot. You know more languages than an average human being. How do you position yourself as an expert?
Well, keep your humility at the bay and talk about your skills. I know this sounds corny, but, look around you. As long as you don’t blow your own trumpet, people are not going to recognize your talent no matter how ingenious it is.
So get out of your shell, tell people unflinchingly about your expertise and how you can help them build or expand their business. This is the most important step.
2. Look for unpaid opportunities in your domain
Keep tabs on any pro bono opportunities available in your community or network. Though it may go against your cred to accept opportunities that don’t offer any monetary rewards, it is important to take them up nonetheless.
When you deliver a lecture or speak at a workshop, you put yourself in front of people. You expose your brand to your audience. Later, it doesn’t matter if it’s a digital recommendation or good old word-of-mouth, you win either way.
3. Write a Book
Writing a book might sound a little ominous, especially, when you have never thought about it even in your wildest imagination.
Even if the thought did cross your mind, you might have set it aside citing your inability to write a great book. Look, you don’t have to write a New York Times bestseller. Even if your book ends up stations below the NYT bestsellers list, it would still give your credibility a massive boost.
Being the author of a published work can turn the spotlight on you. Your clients – both existing and potential – would see you in a different light.
Luckily, modern tools have made it inexpensive to become an author. Once you’ve written your book, you can self-publish it on Amazon. In a matter of days, your work becomes immediately available to a global audience.
4. Speak at Industry Forums
Every industry has associations and every association has forums. You have to ensure that you are seen on these forums.
You have to be heard in the media and become a part of the public consciousness. It can change everything.
Initially, you have to go and network with people. Later, when you reach a critical mass, people will come to you to network.
5. Craft Storytelling Skills
Ask any entrepreneur what contributed to their success and you’d definitely hear ‘Storytelling’ being yelled out as one of the key factors.
You should take your fans or audience on a virtual journey every time you speak to them or write to them. Give them something to hold on to so that when they talk to others about you, they spread those metaphors and stories linked to you.
That said, becoming a persuasive storyteller takes practice and constant honing of skills. But once you master this craft, selling yourself to others becomes a cakewalk.
Since these days, a lot of storytelling is happening on social media, I recommend this article by Guy Kawasaki to get started on your storytelling journey.
6. Give away lots of free content
Identify a problem in your business sphere and help people fix it. Publish a white paper, write blog posts, create videos. Nothing else would get you the rapt attention of your audience faster.
Take those YouTubers who create insightful and informative videos and distribute them freely. They are solidifying their reputation as subject matter experts. They know once it is established, they can reach out for bigger things.
7. Start a podcast
A podcast is one of the most efficacious mediums today to reach your target audience. It’s cheap to set up and easy to distribute. Together with a blog, a podcast can make a great combo. Your podcast might reach people where your blog won’t.
Having your own podcast also means you can double down on owning a niche. You can leverage your expertise and communicate it to your audience.
Many people don’t like reading long posts, but they are absolutely fine listening to someone’s advice while driving or exercising. You can be that voice.
Podcast Insights’ data reveals that as of April 2021, there are over 2 million podcasts. That figure looks daunting in isolation, but it pales when compared to 500 million blogs that exist. Clearly, podcasting is still pristine territory, and starting one now is a great idea.
8. Deploy Video Content
What is common among GaryVee, Joe Rogan, and Jordan Peterson? They use all three mediums to amplify their presence and speak to their audience – blogs, audio, and videos.
These days you don’t need to be on a television news program to gain credibility.
Use your smartphone to do a Facebook Live interview or have someone record a video of you discussing issues that will educate others and make them want to work with you. Share them on social media.
9. publish a Research paper
If you do original research, you automatically set yourself above your competition.
Most people just regurgitate other people’s research. Do your own, and you position yourself in the expert category in your prospects’ minds.
10. Maximize user-generated content
There is nothing better than letting someone else advocate your brand…for free. In modern times, when a lot of recommendations and feedback is happening online, it only makes sense to ride this bandwagon.
The user-generated content or UGC is the content created by users or fans rather than brand. This content comes in the shape of images, videos, reviews, testimonials, etc. For solopreneurs, this is gold mine where your fans do the marketing for you…for free.
For your audience to talk about you and your products or services online, you have to give them a reason to get started. A solid ebook, tweet-storm on a subject, a celebrity testimonial, can set the ball rolling.
11. Display ‘Featured’ badges on your website
Let’s say you are a ghostwriter and you are invited to a top podcast show for a one-to-one talk with its celebrity host. You share your knowledge about the subject with thousands of listeners on the podcast.
What do you think you should do after that? Ideally, you should publicize the fact that you were there on that show.
Make a creative with logos of all the podcasts and YouTube channels you have featured in or websites where your interview or article has been published. Put this creative in all the important pages of your website or header of your Twitter and Linkedin.
Don’t despair if you don’t have many such associations to boast of, with a few months of focused effort you can rectify the situation.
To conclude, your rise to fame should be an ever-unfolding story. Leverage social media and your personal connections to build a strong personal brand. Use the above steps to solidify your presence among your audience.
You have to be shameless when it comes to self-promoting. I would like to end this post with a quote by the late Estonian academician, Madis Habakuk. He said,
“Modesty is a great virtue, but, you will manage better in life without it.”
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