How to Become a Recognized Expert on Anything
No one wants to hire a novice. It's crucial to be able to demonstrate your expertise to land your target job. This can be a challenge, especially if you're transitioning to a new field or applying for a job that can best be described as a "reach" for you. What can you do to become a recognized expert in your field?
Luckily for you, all is not lost, even if you've never considered yourself an expert in the past. Embrace technology as your friend, and you too can be fielding questions from others in your industry as a recognized expert. It will take time and effort, but if you can accomplish your goal, it will be worth it. Follow these steps and you'll become a go-to expert in your field.
1. Learn something new.
Even if you consider yourself an expert, there's always something new to learn. Especially if you are transitioning to a new career, take advantage of online tools, where you'll be able to learn information for free. For example, Udacity and Coursera offer various types of courses. You can learn everything from how to program code to developing a website or making a robotic car, often for free. Also, don't underestimate YouTube as a source of information and knowledge. You can Google just about any topic and find someone who posted a video about it.
Social media is swimming with information and insights; don't miss opportunities to use tools such as Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn; these are all resources to enhance your expertise. Find out about industry conferences and determine if there is a hashtag for events that interest you. Even if you can't attend, if you follow updates from participants, you may learn a lot. Follow industry leaders who are active online or who participate in online forums or groups.
2. Keep on top of of salient topics in your profession.
If you want to be recognized as an expert, you must know about the hot topics in your industry. What are people discussing in your field? What problems are thought leaders trying to solve? What are the best solutions? If you want people to see you as an expert, it's important to insert yourself in these conversations--and to join the conversations, you should first do your research and be clear about your opinions on these issues.
3. Expand your network.
You can't demonstrate expertise in a room all by yourself! If you want to be considered a go-to expert, you need to have more contacts and connections. Look around: who in your network would be willing to go to bat for you or refer you for an opportunity? The more people you know who are able to speak about what you know and connect you with jobs or gigs, the better. If you have a close circle of contacts, plan to expand it by attending in-person meetings relating to your industry, volunteering for leadership roles and speaking up. In addition, use social media tools to expand the number of people who know, like and trust you. Join groups on LinkedIn and communities on Google+ and make a point to answer questions and provide resources regarding your expertise.
4. Find a mentor.
Even experts have mentors. A mentor--especially someone who is already well-respected in your field--will be well positioned to help you grow your reputation. If you're lucky, you'll be able to impress someone who is well established in his or her niche who is willing to help shine the light on new talent (you!).
5. Showcase what you know.
Once you've build your knowledge base, grown your network and found a mentor, all you need to do is broadcast your expertise to as many people as possible. Luckily for you, there are many easy ways to do just that:
a. Use social media tools, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to share useful news and information relevant to your industry. Comment on articles and post links to useful information your colleagues will want to know. Be a resource and people are more likely to turn to you for your expertise and insights.
b. Publish your own content. Did you know you can publish blogs on LinkedIn? If you have an opinion about a topic, write about it and post it online. If you're really enthusiastic about becoming known as an expert, you'll create and manage your own website and blog where you regularly author useful, insightful articles. You can impress others in your field and attract attention.
c. Organize online forums. Choose your favorite social media tool. It should be where you enjoy spending your time online and the tool most people in your industry prefer. Invest time and effort in creating a group or forum using that platform. For example, you may wish to start a LinkedIn group or a Google+ hangout. If you prefer Twitter, it may make sense to start a regular Twitter chat. Invite others to join you and keep the conversations interesting and useful. Make sure your forum is a must-see for people in your field.
d. Identify thought leaders and make an effort to help them. If it's not clear who is most influential in your industry, use tools such as Klout.com or Wefollow.com to help you find them. Who is delivering keynote speeches at industry conferences? Who heads up industry groups or professional associations in your area? Every leader relies on people to assist and volunteer. Offer to co-moderate a LinkedIn group or volunteer to chair a committee. The more you engage with leaders in your field, the more likely they are to recognize your expertise and share your name with others in the field.
When you are able to leverage your knowledge online and in person, it won't matter as much how many years of experience you have: your ability to hone in on important topics, and to be a resource for professionals in your industry will trump everything else, and you'll be recognized as an expert. Is it easy? No, but if you truly want to be a go-to leader in your field, it is worth it.