Personal Development

Establishing Yourself as an Expert

Becoming an expert is hard work. You’ve got to be shrewd enough to pick the right area and then work hard enough to amass a substantial body of relevant knowledge.

There are, however, some valuable tips and tools that can help you develop, demonstrate, and promote your newfound expertise:

Be the answer person. Being an expert means answering the questions that your target audience is asking. Where to find those questions? A good place to start is Quora, a popular question-and-answer forum that features high-level questions across a broad range of content areas. Look for the questions that are being asked by people who fit the profile of your target audience—those are the questions that you should be trying to answer, both on Quora and in your blog. After you’ve answered a few questions, you’ll have a good idea of what your target audience is interested in—and that should help you to define your niche area of expertise.

Blogging is your best friend. Your own blog is square one in your campaign to become an expert—post frequently, and share your content to get it viewed as widely as possible. Tools like Buffer and IFTTT can make content-sharing a lot easier and less time-consuming. Frequent guest-blogging is also a good strategy; it helps you gain exposure to new audiences while enhancing your credentials as an authority whom other bloggers respect.

Keep writing. If you want to become a true expert, there is no substitute for high-quality written content. Keep offering your content to the trade journals and newsletters that people in your industry read, and don’t worry about getting paid—the exposure is what matters. Even reviewing industry-related books for Amazon or Bookreporter.com will help get your name out. Once you’re more established, you can experiment with video content, but as you’re starting out you’ll find that most opportunities involve the written word.

It’s academic. The essence of being an expert is to impart your expert knowledge to others. You must be, in a fundamental sense, a teacher; that means putting yourself out there in classrooms and online, guest-teaching courses and offering seminars and webinars that demonstrate your expertise to a willing audience. Be aware that webinar hosting can be a tough game to break into; you’ll probably need to start out by co-hosting. Comb trade publications in your industry, along with industry conference websites, to find popular speakers who’ve spoken on topics related to your area of expertise; those are the people you should approach with an offer to co-host their webinars to family and friends.

Meet the press. You can’t simply assert, on your own, that you’re an expert – somebody else has to vouch for your expertise. Being asked to comment on a media story tells the world that reporters respect and value your expertise. Obviously, the media won’t come calling if you’re not really an expert; you’ve got to do all the hard work to develop and demonstrate your expertise. But once you’ve done all that, there are a couple of services that can help you get noticed by reporters and editors. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and ProfNet are both online services that seek to match journalists who have questions with experts who can provide answers. Basic HARO is free, but the service offers premium packages for a monthly fee. ProfNet is somewhat pricier, and its fees vary according to a range of factors.

Give the media what they want. If you want the media to keep giving you free publicity as an expert, you’ve got to give them what they want. Here are a few tips:

  • Be prompt. Most journalists are working on tight deadlines. The quicker you get back to them with an answer, the more likely they will be to use it.
  • Be accurate. Be sure to research your answer thoroughly; avoid speculating and stick to your own area of expertise.
  • Be quotable. Reporters want lively quotes; vivid phrases and a sense of humor can help enormously. Dull quotes usually wind up on the proverbial cutting-room floor.
  • Be contrarian. Journalists love controversy; if you can, take the opposing view and question conventional wisdom.
  • Be thankful. Once you’ve been quoted, send a quick thank-you email to the journalist—but only if you’ve been quoted accurately!

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Review Checkpoint

To test your understanding of the content presented in this assignment, please click on the Question icon below. Click your selected response to see feedback displayed below it.

1. Which of the following can help you define your niche area of expertise?

a. Quora

Correct. Quora is a question-and-answer forum that can help you find the areas in which members of your target audience express a strong interest.


Incorrect. Try again.


Incorrect. Try again.

d. ProfNet

Incorrect. Try again.

2. You responded to a journalist’s questions about an issue where you are an expert, but she didn’t use your quotes. What’s the most likely reason?

a. Your quotes were too colorful.

Incorrect. Try again.

b. You expressed controversial opinions in your response.

Incorrect. Try again.

c. You resisted the urge to speculate about issues outside your area of expertise.

Incorrect. Try again.

d. You were a little late in responding to the journalist’s questions.

Correct. The best, most insightful quotes in the world won’t make it into print if you miss the journalist’s deadline.

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