You know what they say…
You know, them…
We often think of ‘experts’ as the people who attend school for years to get degrees and PhDs. They’re the scholars who get published in professional journals and win Nobel Prizes.
Sure, they’re the people we quote and reference all the time, but there is another kind of expert I’d like to tell you about, and it probably includes you.
To me, the word ‘expert’ has a bit too much elitism attached to it, and I see it more as a relative term. You don’t have to master a subject with 10,000 hours of practice to become one (although it doesn’t hurt).
Merriam-Webster defines an expert as: having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.
Everyone is an expert at something
In fact, many people are experts at many things. An expert is someone who’s knowledgeable about a specific subject. It’s someone with more know-how, training, and experience than the next person. Someone who is able to share that knowledge with others in a way that offers value. This usually includes your passions, as you’ve been playing piano for most of your life, or drawing portraits, or cooking, or making hats—whatever the case may be.
If you think you can call yourself an expert, then you probably can. Just ask yourself these four little questions:
- Can you talk about it hours?
- Can you teach others how to do it?
- Can you inspire others to learn it?
- Can you produce results?
The people who are self-proclaimed experts usually meet these four criteria. They have the passion and the knowledge to do great things, they teach others how it’s done, and they inspire people to do it for themselves. Others don’t often question your expertise, but if you said yes to these four questions, then you can prove to them that you’re the real deal.
If I’m going to hire an SEO expert, then I’m going to be looking at the people who show up at the top of Google’s search results and have built a solid social network of followers. Just the same, if I’m going to hire a designer, then I’m going to ask lots of challenging and specific questions about the job I need done, so that I know they’re knowledgable enough.
Don’t ever promise what you can’t deliver because you’ll be held accountable by others. If you deliver what you say you can, then you’ll strengthen your reputation as an expert in your field.
So what are you expert in?
Well, what are your best skills? What things are you really, really good at? The things you can engage in for hours and lose track of time. The things you can talk about tirelessly while keeping others interested. What do people come to you for advice about most often? What would you continue doing for the rest of your life, even for no pay? Go ask your friends and family what they think you’re best at.
Maybe it’s crochet, or model cars, or horseback riding, or photography, or gluten-free vegan baking. It could be almost anything!
Start making a list (yes, physically write this list down), and don’t erase anything. When you can’t think of any more, place stars beside the best ones. At this point, you could get feedback from your family and friends again to help narrow it down. You’ll find your answer soon enough.
That is your passion; that is your expertise.
Experts can totally make money
With the right ambition and under the right conditions, you can turn your passion into a profitable business venture. People will either pay for the items you produce or pay you to learn what you know.
You know what’s huge right now? Information products and professional coaching. Membership sites, ebooks, and whitepapers are everywhere online, and the number of live webinars and coaching calls are growing every single day. Where is your place in all this? Plan out a set of action steps for providing the public with your expertise. What value you can offer your audience?
Even if you teach people how to do what you do for free, often times they will pay you to do it for them anyway, or pay you to be their coach. Why? Because you are the expert! (Plus, they don’t have the time to do it themselves.)
In a previous post, I wrote about how finding your passion is the first step to choosing a niche for any new business. This is because, years down the road, you don’t want to lose the motivation it takes to keep your business going.
Narrow down what you’re true passions are, then pick one that has a viable target market with money to spend. What could you sell that people would be interested in? Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades. Focus, focus, focus.
Ok. I’m an expert, now what?
Awesome! Now that you consider yourself an expert in your niche, start acting like one! You don’t have to put the word ‘expert’ in your bio (actually, it’s pretty lame, and could lower your credibility). Definitely write yourself a professional bio that resonates with your audience. Look at how authors’ bios are written on books and follow that general format. Your credentials, accomplishments, initiatives, and appearances come first. Personal information like your hometown and dog’s name should come last.
Start teaching today, if you’re not doing so already. Find your voice, and throw passion into your work. Really inspire people to do great things. Start a blog, start a podcast, hold some local workshops, and then start speaking at bigger events. It’s much harder to build trust online than it is in person, so if you can, get out there and be an expert in person.
Next time you sit down to write or record some new content, put on your expert hat. Let that confidence come through you and you’ll connect with your audience in a whole new way. Don’t only teach them, but challenge them, and ask them questions that make them think.
Join some professional networks, online and offline. Frequent LinkedIn Answers, or Quora, or some other question/answer platforms. Some of these sites offer an ‘expert status’ that really looks great on your profile! Create a series of videos for Youtube and Vimeo. Put together some slideshows on Slideshare or Sliderocket. Offer your value to others online using the methods that make sense for you. If you like Twitter, then use Twitter. If you prefer Facebook, then use Facebook. Develop meaningful connections with other expert influencers in your field, and with the people who are interested in what you do. Follow them, friend them, talk with them, engage with them.
Learn everything you can about your niche. Stay up-to-date with relevant news and trends, and share the good stuff with your followers. Never stop improving yourself, and become the best damn expert you can be!
So what do you think about calling yourself an expert?
Image by hans s under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.
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