HOW TO: Become an Expert in Your Industry
Today it seems that no matter what industry you’re in, your competition is stronger than ever.Â How do you stand out and get that sale when people aren’t as loyal to brands as they used to be?Â Â How do you get their attention in an ever growing sea of noise when they’re so often swayed by price rather than quality?Â Â One answer is to become recognized as an expert in your industry, someone other people seek out for information.
The most important part to becoming known as an expert, of course, is that you know a lot about whatever it is you do.Â Â That could be construction, public relations, HR, dogs â€” whatever it is, in order to gain the requisite knowledge to be regarded as a thought-leader in your field likely requires years of schooling or real-world practice, or both.Â Â In addition, when your goal is to be recognized as an expert you need to always keep learning, and to constantly share that expertise. But first let’s talk about why you might want to be an expert.
Benefits of Being an Expert
Being an expert in your field makes you the go-to person for your industry. There are many people that I trust inherently on different subjects simply because they know their stuff, and they’re not trying to sell me anything.Â Â Â They just want to be helpful in their own space.Â These are people that I learn from, but also whom I would buy from because I trust their knowledge and expertise.
Being an expert helps you:
– Establish yourself as an industry leader
– Help others
– Become a trusted resource
– Get interviews and media coverage
– Gain access (via conference/speaking invites, etc.)
– Convert followers to sales
Blogs & News â€“ Blogs in your industry are a great place to find out the latest tools and news.Â Â If you’re not already reading blogs, do a web search for to locate some blogs that cover your business niche.Â Â Find ones that you like and subscribe to them by RSS so you won’t forget to read them.
It’s not a bad idea to set up a Google Alert to search for news about your industry.Â Â Paying attention to news headlines is a great way to stay abreast of changes in your field.
Online Education â€“ There’s no reason you have to enroll in college (again) to keep learning. There are a variety of online resources at which you can take free or cheap webinars or e-courses to keep the wheels churning.
Social Networks â€“ Increasingly, social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, and Delicious are where people are sharing news and information that matters to them.Â Â By following the already established experts in your niche, you’ll gain access to the information they possess, which will in turn increase your knowledge.
Conferences & Events â€“ Every industry has conferences, trade shows, and other events, at which other experts in the industry gather to share their knowledge.Â Â Attending these meetings can help you in your quest to continually learn new information.Â You can find out about conferences by reading industry blogs, searching events sites like Upcoming.org, or finding local user groups on Meetup.
Imparting Your Wisdom
By sharing your knowledge with others, you’ll quickly become known for your expertise.Â Â This can translate into sales, job offers, gigs, or other opportunities, as you build your personal brand as an expert.Â Here are some ways you can share what you know.
Blogs â€“ The easiest way to start sharing is by creating a blog.Â Blogs are fantastic if you’ve got a ton of information in your head and need a place to dump it.Â The bonus is: you can help others through that information.Â Blog about what you know.Â Share news, offer advice, give your opinion, and make yourself the go-to resource for what you do.Â The key to successful blogging is to consistently put out good, original, and useful content that encourages readers to engage with you and with each other.
Social Media â€“ Social media sites are designed for experts! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a question about something, tweeted it, and gotten free advice back, later, the people who provided me with expert advice are the people I buy from when I need their services.Â By providing free advice on Twitter or Facebook, you will build a base of fans that both trust you and look to you for expert advice.Â These fans will seek you out and recommend you to others seeking advice and information â€” in other words, by sharing your knowledge and gaining trust, your network will grow on its own.
Video â€“ Don’t underestimate the power of video. For those who do well in front of a camera, sharing free how-to videos on sites like YouTube or Vimeo can lead to increased awareness. It also demonstrates to television producers how well you do on camera, which means online expert videos can lead to television appearances.
Speaking Up â€“ You should already be attending industry conferences, trade shows, and user group meetings, and you should make sure to assert yourself as a knowledgeable voice in the community while at those events. Whether that means lining up formal speaking engagements â€” which will be easier to do the more you grow your personal brand as an expert â€” or just networking and sharing your expertise with other attendees, speaking up is helpful in building your expert brand.
Consulting â€“ Offering consulting services can do two things: first, it can make you a little money, and second, it can help you establish yourself among industry insiders as someone who knows their stuff.Â One consulting gig can lead to many based on referrals and having a list of business owners willing to give you a recommendation can be invaluable.Â If you plan to offer consulting services, put information about your services on your blog and in your social profiles, and consider offering phone consultations.