These days it’s not enough just to be knowledgeable about a particular topic; you’ve got to be an expert. People are in search of content, and they don’t want to get it from any old source. They want a real authority on the subject… or so we’re told.
And thus the web is being pounded as we speak with headshots, testimonials, “as seen on” banners, and a litany of irrefutable credentials against the backdrop of some fancy coding.
Long gone are those pre-Internet days when all you had to do was put a few framed certificates on the wall and maybe a few plaques for good measure and voila… expertise confirmed.
But, this brings up a burning question for many micro business owners trying to make a living online: what if you don’t feel like much of an expert? What do you do then? How do you convince people to even listen to you, let alone buy your products and services?
Nodding your head?
You’re not alone. The good news is it’s not as hard as you may think to become an “expert in your niche” and even be recognized as such.
But before I get to some actionable advice, let’s make sure that we are on the same page.
There are a few fundamental ideas that you have to embrace for this to work:
#1. Every person is an expert of something.
Even if there are people in your niche who have more knowledge or experience than you, they will never be able to see and experience things in exactly the way that you do. You are unique, so are your experiences and your background, and therefore any knowledge that you’ll give over will have a unique flavor to it.
#2. Different people will pick up on different kinds of cues
They will also be looking for different kinds of “experts.” Some people may be impressed with the fact that you published an article in a well-know media source; others may like the fact that you have real-world experience; still others may respond to examples of your work, recommendations from people that they know, or even your style of communication.
#3. There are more than enough pieces of the traffic pie to go around.
Unless you’re working in a highly-defined niche with an extremely small audience, there are more than enough people online who may specifically want to hear what you have to say. Don’t pay too much attention to the traffic and engagement numbers of the current leaders in your niche. If you know how to promote yourself online (and off), you’ll do ok.
Now, on to some advice…
Check Your Attitude
Being perceived as an expert has lot to do with the attitude and the vibes that you are putting out. This often comes through loud and clear- even online without all the social cues that happen during face-to-face communication.
We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “fake it till you make it.” There’s definitely some truth to that, but to make the process more powerful, you really should be building your “fake” self on the qualities and traits that you actually possess- even if they aren’t so actualized. The more you believe in yourself and the value of the knowledge and experience that you already have, the more others will too.
So, stop what you are doing right now and make a list of all the knowledge, experience, skills, and talents that you do have. Then make a “wish list” of any additional things that you would like to learn or qualities that you would like to develop in order to expand your expertise in your given field. You owe it to yourself to constantly remember what you have, and to make an effort to get what you need to be the best expert you can be.
Remember Who You are Trying to Target
This is extremely important. You have to remember who you are trying to attract and impress. Get to know them as much as you can. Where do they hang out? What do they talk about. What would they find attractive? You want to be an exclusive expert to this group of people. Now, how can you be attractive to them? What could you do to be even more sexy? It’s almost as if you will want to create a niche within a niche. Make a list of actionable things that you can do to increase your appeal among your target audience.
What does this have to do with feeling like an expert? Everything! Realize that it’s much easier (and comfortable) to be an expert to a very defined and familiar group, then it is to a massive audience.
And after a while, you may notice a funny thing happen. While you were busy trying to be the expert for one group, a whole bunch of other people may also climb aboard.
Practice… and Testing Makes Perfect
If you want to be perceived as an expert, then you have to practice communicating like one. But, if you are not feeling so confident about your opinions, practice saying them in some low key places online, like a small forum or a blog that isn’t so popular, and see what the response is as well as your reaction next to it. After a while, you can build up your confidence to give your expert opinion in more prominent places.
In closing, expertise is a relative term. It’s not always about how much you know, but it’s always about your attitude. The more you value what you, and you alone, have to offer, the more you’ll be able to cultivate it where it counts and be recognized for it in the process.