In the speaking and information product industry there is a lot of mystique around “expert status” and what, exactly, that means.
For people just starting out in their profession or stepping into playing a bigger game, this can be a show-stopping obstacle if they doubt their expertise, if they doubt that they’ve earned the right to teach and speak on their topic.
When speaking as part of your marketing mix and positioning yourself to attract more and higher paying clients, it is important to establish your credibility so that #1 – you trust yourself, #2 – others will be more likely to trust you and #3 – you’ll stand out among the masses.
Just remember this, though…
First – Every guru, expert or master out there started out just like you! They had an idea, talent, insight or skill that they believed could help other people. They simply got started and kept going.
Second – On the journey of business and life, there are plenty who know less than you and some who know more. Acknowledge yourself for recognizing and claiming those areas where you shine brightest.
Brendon Burchard, founder of the Experts Academy, addresses this issue compassionately and pointedly in his book “The Millionaire Messenger.” According to Burchard, and I agree whole heartedly, there are three, what he calls “Expert Signposts.” These are ways in which knowledge workers can gain expert credibility. I’ve summarized the three ways for you below so you can find yourself in them and start filling in the gaps in your own credibility, if you find any.
The Results Expert
In a nutshell, this is someone who has “been there, done that” and can now teach “that’ to others who haven’t. Typically, this type of expertise is acquired through the simple act of having accomplished some fundamental tasks, skills or adaptations in life that other people haven’t, with some evidence of results to show for it. This is also where your personal story of overcoming adversity and then sharing what you learned comes into play. I know a woman who has survived three cancer diagnoses and now coaches other moms through the challenge. That qualifies her as an expert in my mind, for sure.
In my experience as a coach and trainer, people often need help seeing their own Results Expertise because it is simply part of their nature. We are often unconsciously competent in some area that is of high value to someone else…but we don’t recognize it or feature it as expertise.
The Research Expert
This is someone who has researched, synthesized, distilled what they learned and best practices into practical chunks of information that helps “regular” people understand a topic. This research may come from books, interviews or studies, but it does not mean an afternoon Googling a topic. You have to have integrity and be committed to excellence to claim this type of expertise.
Napoleon Hill was the ultimate Research Expert, interviewing dozens of wealthy people and distilling that wisdom into a book of “best practices,” widely known as “Think and Grow Rich.”
The Role Model
People listen to and ask advice from those they trust, respect, admire and follow. If you are a person of integrity, compassion and service and you reflect it in your personal and professional life, people will come to you for your advice even if it’s not your area of expertise – because you’ve earned their trust as a good human being with honorable intentions.
If you examine your own history, I’m sure you can recall a time when you listened to someone’s advice even though you knew they weren’t an “expert” in that area. Your three-times divorced friend told you about a relationship seminar and you gave it a try. Your struggling entrepreneur friend told you about a business building strategy and you thought, “I’ll give it a shot.”
Earning and keeping a great reputation will take you far in the expert industry and it requires no particular skill – just a dedication to excellence, integrity and service.
If you’re still not comfortable claiming expert status, give yourself your own title that gets the same result without making you doubt yourself. For example, you could be the “Maven of Motherhood” or “The Queen of Quality Questions.” Or you could use other titles like Mentor or Specialist if the word “expert” feels like a title that’s one size too big for your current confidence level.
Ideally, it’s good to have a healthy balance between all three types of Expert Signposts, but it’s also a process and you only need one to get started. What is important is that you constantly learn, grow and evolve as a person and in your work so you can help a lot more people with what you know.
And because this issue of “expertise” is such a big deal for most people, I’ve decided to dedicate a segment of my upcoming Speak to Profit course on it so you can step onto any stage of your choosing, fully confident that you deserve to be there. I hope you’ll check it out now and see if it is right for you.