We live in a time in which everyone can call themselves “experts”. But that doesn’t always mean that you will be perceived as an expert.
Those who are genuinely respected in their industry often have unique skills or competencies – and know how to add value to the people they ask for help.
Some people become known in their branch without their own intervention, due to external circumstances. But for most people, it takes strategic planning, time, and patience to build a reputation like this in their field. As career coaches and executives told NewsABC.net, such success doesn’t come overnight either.
In an interview, they explain what they think it takes to become an expert in your field, your company or your role.
Be interested and committed to learning more about your subject
Passion is not always synonymous with expertise, but it can be useful.
Francine Parham runs a consulting firm that helps women advance in their careers. According to Parham, you have to be curious about your subject and want to keep learning. You should also keep yourself informed about what is happening in your industry and what other experts are doing and saying. She recommends reading books and articles on every facet of your area of expertise and listening to podcasts (for example, during sports) that cover these topics.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career change expert and founder of Six-Figure Start. According to her, it is wise to ask yourself the following questions to uncover your potential expertise:
- What do I know?
- What do I enjoy?
- Who do I want to help?
- What experiences have I already gained that can help me?
Be open to the opinion of others
If you want to continuously learn new things about a subject, you should definitely deal with the opinions and perspectives of others and support them. Share your work on social media or quote your research and perspectives in your own work or in technical discussions.
“If you allow it, other people have the ability to influence or shape your thinking. Taking other people’s opinions into account and integrating them into one’s own knowledge is an important skill, ”said Parham. She added that with this approach you are signaling credibility because you are showing that you are good at assessing yourself.
“I always like to see someone finish their homework,” she said. “Nobody knows the absolute answer. If it’s just ‘I, I, I,’ then I think the person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. “
Have a consistent message and know how to get it across to your audience
Recognized subject matter experts know how important it is to formulate a consistent message. But they also know that mediation is just as crucial. So you should know who you want to help and direct your message to these people.
“You don’t have to know everything about everything. Concentrate on the people and the cause you want to help and on the knowledge that will anchor your expertise in certain areas in certain people, ”said communication trainer Madeline Schwarz.
According to Ceniza-Levine, it is also important to find out who to contact.
For example, if you want to profile yourself as an industry expert in order to secure a management position, you have to assert yourself in front of recruiters and decision-makers in your industry. To do this, you may need to develop relationships with recruitment firms and company department heads.
Are you already a manager, for example in marketing and want to make a name for yourself in public as a specialist consultant? “In this case, it is your colleagues who really have to see you as a marketing expert,” says Ceniza-Levine. Focus your energies on getting your work published in mainstream media, but also in niche media.
Be adaptable and grow with change
Experts need a consistent message, but they can’t ignore the fact that the world is constantly changing. Josh Withers is the founder and managing director of the global recruitment firm, True Search North America, which focuses on leadership and management talent. According to him, experts must be able to adapt in order to maintain the trust of their audiences over the long term.
“It’s that ability to keep abreast of trends and changes, and not always cling to the views you had before,” Withers said.
According to Parham, experts should clearly communicate fundamental changes to their message and disclose the motivation behind them. “Opinions evolve, perspectives change,” Parham said. “That’s fine as long as people can follow your train of thought, because you can influence the truth,” Parham said.
Prove your expertise with evidence of good work
Real experts do more than just publish articles and post comments on social media. You can back up your statements with good work and experience.
“Would-be experts are people who say, ‘You can make a million dollars’ and have never made a million dollars yourself,” Parham said. Whether it is a specific qualification, work experience, or a physical project in your area of expertise, it is crucial that you have evidence of why people should come to you for advice. For example, you shouldn’t call yourself a journalism buff “if you’ve never written for anyone,” Parham said. “You should simply be the person you claim to be.”
“At some point you have to prove your expertise and back it up with data,” said Ceniza-Levine. It is also important to remember and admit to yourself when a subject is not your thing. “Don’t make promises that you can’t keep,” she said.
Pick a specific (and limited) niche
Withers and Parham acknowledged that while social media and the internet make it easier for people to get their message across, it has made it difficult to stand out from the crowd.
One way to differentiate yourself from others is to choose a narrow specialty. According to Withers, the only way to become an expert is to “provide you with new ideas and insights”. If you’re just starting out, it seems overly optimistic that you can do it on a broad scale, he added.
“Try not to be able to do everything, then you can distinguish yourself in a crowded market,” said Schwarz.
Ceniza-Levine added, “The more specific you can be, the more reach you will have. It is easier to remember specific things than the general. “
Focuses on building relationships with important people
In a way, being an industry expert is about “being in the right place at the right time,” said Withers. Some people do this by working for a top company in their industry and making a meaningful contribution that deserves praise and attention. For others, it’s about strategically connecting with people who matter in the sector.
You can start by commenting on what these people post on social media, Withers said. “You will likely need to start interacting with people who have greater reach and credibility than you,” Withers said. “If you manage to make a good contribution, these people will most likely come back to you.”
Covid-19 may make physical networking difficult, but according to Ceniza-Levine, the current situation still provides an excellent opportunity to maintain our professional relationships. She emphasizes that “it is now easier to network because people are at home in one place and like to interact with other people”.
This article was translated from English and edited by Ilona Tomić. You can read the original here.