Last week, I wrote a blog post called “6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Brand Yourself as a Social Media Expert” and it quickly became the most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog (since October, 2006), with over 400 retweets and almost 60 comments. There were a few people who disagreed with my statements and those that gave me credit for my observations. I wrote the post because I’m perceived as a social media expert at my day job and I believe that title will evolve over the coming years, as we are all pulled into this brave new world and our positions become ubiquitous.
I received a few emails, that will remain anonymous, of individuals who frown at the term “expert.” I, on the other hand, think that it’s one of the most important aspects of personal branding. In fact, if you aren’t an expert, your perceived value diminishes, you won’t get as many opportunities and it will be hard to position yourself for success.
Your biggest challenge
The title of this post may sound scary, especially to those who don’t feel they are experts in their fields quite yet.
Your biggest challenge in life: Finding your passion and connecting it to your expertise, while establishing a support system (something I’ll cover in a forthcoming post).
The problem is that most people have no idea what they want to do with their lives, so they can’t establish a plan to get from where they are to where they want to be. You might fit this bill and if you do, it’s time to start thinking really hard about what your strengths are and what you enjoy.
Please take a minute right now and ask yourself “what am I an expert in”? Then ask yourself “how many other people in my industry can claim this same expertise”? Finally, I want you to ask yourself “what specific part of that expertise can I focus on (what niche)”? By going through this exercise, you can have a better understanding of how you want to be positioned in the marketplace.
Don’t brand yourself as an expert if you aren’t one
An expert is someone who has achieved measurable results by performing a service or an act.
Just because you’re talented, doesn’t mean your an expert. Just because you can do a somersault, doesn’t mean that you’re a gymnast. When I first started out, I branded myself as a Gen-Y spokesman for personal branding, until I became my own success story and transitioned my personal branding statement to include “expert” instead of “spokesman.” When third parties consider you an expert by giving you an endorsement, you can claim that expertise. For instance, the New York Times considers me to be a “personal branding guru.”
When you’re first starting out you can use cool buzzwords such as “enthusiast,” “evangelist,” “spokesperson,” “strategist,” etc, without coming off as unauthentic. If you brand yourself as an expert and can’t deliver on that promise, your brand will be devalued and people will be turned off.
Scott Bradley, one of my good friends, will be going over this more tomorrow in a guest post.
5 benefits that experts receive
One goal you should have in the next few years is to become an expert in your desired field. If you don’t, I think your future will be in danger because the world admires experts, companies hire experts and experts get more attention and compensation (leadership is important too). If you brand yourself as an expert, authentically, and people endorse you, then Google will recognize you as the top expert in your field. In the below picture of the Google search results for “personal branding expert,” you’ll notice BusinessWeek’s endorsement of my work, followed by my blog. I also have the next four results as well. This is a powerful branding idea for all of you!
- Media: The media uses Google to locate “expert sources.” Not only do they type in keywords that reflect the story they are trying to develop, but they will also search for an expert that they can quote, making their story more complete and credible. If you position yourself relative to your expertise, and word hard, then you will rank high and get attention.
- Customers/clients: People all over the world are using Google to locate someone to solve their personal or professional needs. They are typing in terms, such as “expert” and “consultant” in order to find people just like you.
- Job offers: Hiring managers and recruiters, who are paid by companies to find skilled individuals, are using search engines and keywords in order to discover talent. The term “expert” is one of the keywords they use to help make filtering easy.
- Authority: By ranking #1 for a specific field of expertise, it shows authority. Since perception is reality, the world will view you as the top expert and go-to-person.
- Confidence: When you’re an expert, you start feeling better about yourself. If you were to present to a group, you wouldn’t be as nervous and you certainly wouldn’t back down from people challenging you.
Why you need to be an expert to survive the future
I recently read a report in USA Today that states “26% of people are free agents.” I, on the other hand, believe that we are all free agents, yet by working for a company, we feel that we aren’t. Have you ever signed an employment contract for life? No, I didn’t think so. In this new world of work, you’re only as good as your reputation, which is your previous behavior and performance that you’re judged upon. It’s a project driven world and the biggest projects are given to the best experts, followed by the most compensation. In the future, the workplace will be so dispersed and reconfigured, that it will force you to be an expert, in order for your services to be valuable to the company. It’s also great career protection to be called upon for your expertise.
Advice: Work as hard as you can to become the expert you want the world to see you as.
What are you an expert in?