To become an expert I think you need two things. You actually need to know enough about your field to be an expert, and then you need to prove it to people.
This article will show you some of the ways of using social media so you can become an expert.
The first thing you need to do is figure out who you want to be and how you want people to perceive you. Think about what you want to be an expert in, what are your skills and where is your niche? Think about how you describe yourself in your Twitter bio and on your LinkedIn profile. Do not just think about what you want to tell someone, think about what do they want to know about you.
Learning – make your self an expert
In a lot of professional roles such as in the medical world, doctors, opticians etc, you have to continually invest in learning. You have to know the latest about what is going on in your industry to maintain your professional status and your job. Why should every job not have the same obligation for you to invest in keeping on top of what is going on in your industry? If you knew everything about your company, your competitors and your industry, you would be fairly knowledgable. This would position you as an expert in some people’s eyes.
So where do you find all this information?
You could spend your whole life reading up on your chosen subject. This wouldn’t leave much time to go out there and actually be the expert. You need to first find the information, and secondly find ways to filter and prioritise the endless streams of stuff out there.
The easiest ways to find information is to subscribe (through email or RSS) to people’s blogs and follow people on twitter. You can probably think of a handful of people who are already respected in your industry as an expert, they would be a good place to start. Who you subscribe to and who you follow should grow organically over time. Quality is better than quantity. The more people you follow the more difficult it is to find the good stuff in the feed of information from the people you follow. You should increase the list of people you follow only when you find new people who can add value to your life in some way.
Where do you find the time to do all this?
Most people, most of the time, will only have a short amount of spare time each day to spend consuming information. I try to increase this time by having content I can easily consume, which is suitable to where I am. If I am driving in the car I will find some podcasts that I can listen to, if I am on the running machine at the gym I will watch videos on YouTube on my iPad. When I am on the train and I don’t have network coverage I will make sure I have some industry reading material on my iPad such as a white paper or an e-book to make the most of that time. I guess I just try to maximise my productivity in between me doing my day job and doing other things in my life.
Filtering and prioritising information
Even when you follow 100 people on twitter it becomes difficult to consume the information with any real prioritisation. One useful feature on twitter is the ability to create lists of people you follow and group together similar people. You might want to create a list for different areas of interest that you have. You may want to group together a few of the VIPs so that you can stay on top of what they say. This way you prioritise the most important information sources.
You can also use a great iPad/iPhone app called Flipboard which creates a social magazine about whatever you want to know about. I wrote a separate post about Flipboard and how to use it. In a nutshell it creates your own personal social newspaper with only things which are relevant to you. It has a great feature called “cover stories” which cherry picks the most important things online in your world right now. This is great when you only have a couple of minutes to spare in between meetings and you just want a quick over view of what is going on in your world.
Time to start to spread the word
Once you actually have the knowledge to start to consider yourself an expert in your field, you need to see if you can find some other people who would call you an expert. You could do it the hard way or should I say the old fashioned way. You could go out there and work on a couple of projects each year and build up your reputation over many years using word of mouth. Alternatively you could turbo charge your development and take a different route.
I am too impatient to do it the slow way so I will tell you how to make some short cuts.
I advised you to consume information which demonstrates the expertise of others, you now need to step up to the plate and start sharing and generating content to help share your expertise with others.
The first step is curation. Initially I would advise you to start sharing all the good stuff you have found online in blogs and tweets. As an expert you should know all of the good things going on in your industry and people will eventually look to you as a news source for your industry/niche. You become a kind of filter for information, only letting through the good stuff. This means retweeting all the useful things you find on twitter and clicking on the share button when you read a blog you think is good. You could even do it on this blog if you like Go on spread the love!
The next step is creation. You need to start putting down your expertise so you can help to educate people in and around your industry. This creation could be a blog like this one, you could record videos to put onto YouTube, you could record podcasts for people to listen to or you could upload your presentation slide decks to slideshare. Whatever works best for you is a good place to start. If you are struggling for ideas about what to write about, or create, read this article I wrote on the subject. It basically says you should start by answering all the questions people ask you in your business.
The content you create will be hopefully be found through google searches and social media sharing. When people read or consume your information they will start to build up trust in you and your work. In turn your expert status will start to grow.
You need to
- figure out what you want to be an expert in
- find the resources for information to enhance your expertise
- find ways to figure out which information to prioritise
- share the good resources you have found
- create your own content to help others understand the things you know
Once you have learnt how to be an expert and then started to tell people about all your knowledge, then you will be well positioned to advance your career. This may result in a promotion, salary increase, more commission or new job offers. All I ask is for my 10% fee. Failing that you could always share this article or leave a comment with your thoughts? Enjoy!
How have you demonstrated your expertise? How do you define expertise? At what point should you consider yourself an expert? What kind of content have you created which has helped to demonstrate what you know?