Building Your Reputation as an Expert
Making the Most of Your Knowledge
You've spent years building expert knowledge at work. You're confident in your skills, and those who know you often come to you for advice.
However, outside your close circle of colleagues, you're not well-known, and this anonymity is limiting the opportunities available to you. So, how can you get noticed?
One way to do this is by developing your reputation as an expert. This can open doors in your career, enhance your organization's reputation, and help you connect with your peers and your customers. In this article, we'll look at several strategies that you can use to build a strong and honestly-earned expert reputation.
There are many advantages of being well-known for your expertise.
For instance, it gives you "expert power." When you have this, people trust your good judgment, and follow you as a result. You quickly get buy-in with projects and initiatives; you're more likely to get a great job offer or a promotion; and you can easily attract exceptional people to your team.
Also, building a reputation as an expert helps you generate recognition for your company, and gets your story "out there." This helps you attract new clients and customers, which is especially useful if you're an entrepreneur, or if you run a small business.
Many of the strategies that help you build your reputation as an expert also allow you to help others. When you share what you've learned throughout your career, it can make a real difference to someone else, especially to young professionals who are just starting out.
Identifying Your Audience
Before you start developing your reputation as an expert, begin by defining your target audience. Who do you need to target to make the greatest impact? Who will it most benefit you to help? And who do you most want to influence?
For example, your target audience could include people in your organization, senior executives, potential clients and customers, or industry peers.
Also, think about how this aligns with your organization's mission and values. Clearly, it's in your interests to develop a reputation for expertise, however, make sure that you're robustly serving your organization's interests as well.
To develop a reputation as an expert, you need to have real, useful, in-depth knowledge and experience to draw on. Our article on Building Expertise shows you how to acquire the relevant, in-depth knowledge that you need in order to be seen as an expert.
How to Develop a Reputation as an Expert
There are many strategies and platforms that you can use to develop your reputation as an expert. Some involve personal, face-to-face interactions, while others involve strictly online activities. Choose the strategies that you feel most comfortable with to get started.
You can network with others face-to-face at industry meetings, at trade conferences, and in volunteer groups. You can also network internally within your organization, as well as online. Your goal here is to become a useful "resource" that others can use to learn and grow.
Begin networking online by joining LinkedIn User Groups that focus on your particular area of expertise, or by using the Mind Tools Club forums (which give you a safe place to start). You can also use LinkedIn to answer questions from other users: this will help you grow your reputation.
Twitter is another useful networking resource. Use it to share useful news, blogs, tips, and advice. If your tweets are valuable and you interact with other users, your reputation will spread, and you'll become known as an industry expert who others will want to follow.
Public speaking is great for reaching out to others and for demonstrating your expertise. For example, you could present at:
- Industry group meetings and trade conferences.
- Professional associations or business groups.
- Company board meetings or town hall meetings.
- Team briefings.
- Continuing education programs.
Writing a Blog
Blogging is great for sharing your knowledge and for developing your reputation as an expert. This helps people to understand the quality of your thinking; and allows them to get to know, like, and trust you, before they interact with you face-to-face. This also provides you with a potential worldwide audience, and showcases your abilities as a writer.
The key to writing a successful blog is to keep the information useful and highly relevant, and to write and edit your material carefully. Remember, you want people to see you as a resource, so provide the best information possible. Also, try to update your content regularly.
If your organization's website or intranet doesn't already have a blogging facility that you can use, you can set up a free blog with services like Blogger, Wordpress, and Posterous. Promote your blog through word-of-mouth, by linking to it from your email signature, and by interacting with other bloggers in your industry.
You could also approach other, relevant blogs about becoming a contributor. This is a good way to get started.
Becoming an Expert Source
Writers and journalists are always looking for expert sources to interview for TV features, and for print and online articles. A feature in a major publication can boost your reputation, and generate buzz around your products and services.
Once you create an account with these services, you'll receive regular emails. Then, when you spot a query for your particular area of expertise, you contact the writer or journalist directly. This is an easy way to find great media opportunities and to demonstrate your expertise in your field.
You can also contact relevant media outlets directly. For example, you could offer to write a monthly column for your local newspaper's business section, or write articles for a trade publication.
Creating Information Products
"Information products" such as books, ebooks, white papers, monthly newsletters, or booklets are useful for sharing your expertise, especially if you want to use your reputation as an expert to promote your organization's products and services. You could even create learning platforms with webinars, podcasts, or online videos.
You can then feature these products on your website or blog, or give them away when people enquire about your products, or watch you present at a trade conference.
Remember, however, that you may need to invest a lot of time, effort and resources into these to achieve a professional-looking product. Don't rush, otherwise you'll damage your reputation rather than enhance it!
You can also develop your reputation as an expert by using your knowledge and expertise to help others, for example, by volunteering for a committee within your organization, or by helping out at a nonprofit that you really care about.
Mentoring is another great way to use your expertise. When you mentor someone else, you have the opportunity to make a positive difference in that person's life. You open yourself up to learn and grow from the relationship as well.
Building Your Expert Reputation Appropriately
While developing a reputation as an expert has many benefits, it's important not to let this interfere with your daily work and objectives. Don't let it get in the way of the responsibilities that you have for your team, clients, and organization.
Also, make absolutely sure that you don't disclose any confidential or commercially-sensitive information.
It might be smart to meet with your boss early on to discuss ground rules, and to agree how you can use your expertise to benefit both yourself and your organization.
You can get noticed, build expert power, and draw attention to your organization by developing your reputation as an expert. This can create opportunities for your organization and for yourself.
Start by defining your target market ‒ you need to make sure that you're building your expert reputation in the right places.
You can then develop your reputation by networking in person and online, by becoming an expert source, by writing a blog, by creating information products, by speaking at meetings and conferences, and by using your expertise to help others.