One thing usually keeps people from branding themselves as an expert: they think they need a fancy degree or else nobody is going to want to hear what they say.
In the entrepreneurship world, you don’t need 30 years of experience or a certificate to give a talk or write a book, you just need to learn a particular subject and teach it to someone else. Here are five steps on how you can become an expert:
This is a motto I learned during my days working at Intuit. The idea is to learn a skill, teach it to someone, then get feedback to refine your message.
First, you start by learning something—this could be a skill you learned at work, the experience you gained doing something or a webinar you attended. Then turn around and teach it to someone else and get feedback so you can improve your message.
For example, if you learned how to set up Facebook ads and had some success, write a blog post about it and teach others, or if you own a painting company, record a video using YouTube on the best paint to use for the exterior of your house. Get feedback as to what worked, what they liked about it, and what could you do to improve it.
Lisa Sasevich, a motivational speaker and the queen of conversions, says public speaking is a skill that you can learn, and master with practice. In her post, Why Every New Entrepreneur Should Start Speaking, she says: “one reason you want to do public speaking is to propel growth, because one of the quickest and best ways to grow your business quickly is to speak to as many potential customers as possible. By speaking you can turn audience members into customers and into referrals for other speaking engagements, where you can turn more audience members into more customers and more referrals.”
But if you are like me, a natural introvert who doesn’t care for public speaking, then the best cure is to sign up for a speech class or group. A great resource is Toastmasters, where you can join a local chapter as a member with an affordable price. You practice public speaking in a safe environment on a regular basis where everyone feels the same way as you do. Only with regular practice will you overcome your fear of public speaking.
This can be an article for your own blog, a guest post or an industry magazine. In his book, Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi talks about the story of Marcus Sheridan, a CEO of a pool and spa business. Marcus became the leader in information about fiberglass pools for people who are interested in buying pools.
The story started in late 2009—the business was in trouble because homeowners were not eager to buy fiberglass pools during the Great Recession and Marcus’s company was thinking they might have to shut down. But they turned the business around and in 2 years they sold more fiberglass pools than any other fiberglass installer in the country, and increased sales to more than $5 million.
How did Marcus achieve such success? Marcus wrote down every question a customer asked him and answered it on his blog; he shared his knowledge using the content. From social media shares to search engine results, the business sales grew to the point where Marcus was being called upon by companies all over the world to install pools.
Being featured as a guest on a show or publication is a great way to establish yourself as an expert. Podcasts have gained a lot of popularity the past several years, where many podcasts interview subject matter experts on the show.
Other options are your local newspapers and radio shows to get your name out. HARO (help a reporter out) is another great resource to check out. It’s a website where journalist or writers are looking for experts to get a quote from on a particular story they are writing about.
If you want to be featured in a national or even local magazine or newspaper publication, Leonard Kim, the managing partner of Build Your Influence, suggests you first need to create a list of writers you want to reach out to, get familiar with their work, and send a message via Twitter or other means to thank them for their work and give them feedback. After establishing a relationship, that’s when you can pitch to them your idea or product and be featured.
One of the rewarding things about learning a skill and gaining experience is to share it with others and to help people grow and be successful. One way to achieve this is to volunteer as a mentor, by asking your local Chamber of Commerce or association if they have any opportunities for mentorship.
Another way is to ask if you can add value when meeting someone new. When I go to network events and meet someone new I’ll ask them, how can I help you? I notice immediately how the person’s eyes light up and they relax.
By being a value to others you will not just help them but you will grow personally, too. Mentoring also helps you gain leadership skills where you will push yourself to gain the mentee’s respect and improve your skills. I know from my personal experience that mentors have had a huge impact on me, so if a mentor had an impact on your life try to return that gift back to the universe.