Newly Corporate

Work, life and the pursuit of happiness for the young professional.

5 Ways to Establish Yourself As An Expert

Talk to the Experts

Becoming an expert isn’t easy. Once you are an expert, though, how do you get the word out?

1. Provide answers. Start an account on Websites with an “answers” section. Yahoo has this, and so does LinkedIn.com. Basically, people ask questions and anyone can provide an answer. The good answers are promoted and the writer of the answer builds their reputation through some kind of points system. I think in the future, accomplishments in this space will start appearing on resumes.

2. Get published. Blogging is a great way to establish yourself as an expert. If you are a young entreprenuer, this is basically a must. For example, a friend of mine started a computer repair business. Every community has one of these and usually business comes from word-of-mouth advertising. But he wanted to test that theory. He started a blog in which he summarized each of his customer visits. He kept it anonymous of course, but he briefly explained what the problem was and how he fixed it. He also repeatedly mentioned the name of the city where he provided his service. The result was a very high google page rank, and a lot of local businesses started finding him via google search. It turns out that businesses are better customers for small time IT guys than the occasional neighbor.

Of course, getting published in traditional media also works to establish yourself as an expert. It is best if you can write something and get it published, but having a story done on you also helps.

3. Get a patent. Now that I am in a position to review resumes and hire people, I have to say that having a patent is a very strong asset for an applicant. It shows that they are a creative thinker (which in my opinion is the most valuable professional asset that one can have), and it shows they are willing to see something to fruition. If this guy can get a patent, so can you.

4. Print it and hang it on the wall. This one works great in the office. If someone has a giant poster in their cubicle, you know they are either an expert or a fanatic. Maybe I’m a sucker, but when I saw a poster of every SQL query hanging on a guy’s cube wall … I got the impression he knew a thing or two about databases.

5. Learn the market. Anyone can like a product, but it is the experts who follow the industry as a whole. This kind of knowledge is valuable in the corporate world, and in many ways it separates the fanatics from the experts. If you know the market and can speak intelligently about its likely future, you will have the respect of your audience. Y ou can’t put this type of thing on your resume, but it is a big-time credibility builder at those cocktail parties with the boss.

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12 Comments

  1. I really like your fifth point. I think it’s so applicable, no matter what level you’re at in your career.

  2. I felt a little bad when I wrote that 5th point. It made me feel old. I remember being a kid and listening to my parents talk about the market for this or that and thinking “old people are so lame”. I guess this means we are officially members of the corporate world… :)

  3. This is not the most thoughtful post I’ve seen on Newly Corporate.

    I’ll remain consistent with Dan’s numbering:

    2) Blogito ergo sum? Having an opinion and an internet connection doesn’t establish you as an expert. I’m not hating on blogs, but this point falls short. To establish yourself as an expert via a blog you need to have solid content and design a marketing plan that guarantees you reach a large audience. Without a sizable audience or at least an audience of noteworthy reputation, you’re just humming your note in the vast white noise concert that is the internet.

    3) Being a creative thinker is the “most valuable professional asset that one can have”? Give me a break, this isn’t kindergarten. How about a rigorous thinker, someone trained in say classic rhetoric, who can methodically pick through a complex idea? How about another type of rigorous thinker, someone trained in the law, who has learned how to apply a very complex but linear sort of analysis to ideas? “Creative thinker” is a toss-away phrase, a cliché. You need to define your terms.

    4) When I read the bold title here I was convinced you were about to refer to a diploma — establish yourself as an expert by being certified an expert not by the hive mind (internet) or by a bureaucrat/technocrat sitting in Alexandria, VA, but by another man who is already an expert, who may be able to trace his certification as an expert like a lineage back to a professor at a medieval university, men who have studied, produced original ideas, then defended those ideas publicly and satisfactorily, thus establishing themselves as experts. A man with a SQL poster on his wall has proved he is an expert at one thing: operating the office printer.

    5) A five year old can have knowledgeable, well-informed, and impressive opinions about the economy, the stock market, or a given investment, if he speaks with confidence. The only difference between you and Rebecca Jarvis is that she’s damn good looking. Want to establish yourself as an expert? Show me annual returns on your market investment averaging 15% annually for a decade and you’ll convince me you’re an expert. Just speaking with confidence while sipping your gimlet only makes you an expert actor or an expert socializer.

    Sorry this was negative (and long), but this post was strikingly far below the high standard for quality of content you guys have earned a reputation for.

  4. There are no shortcuts. Becoming an expert requires years of study & practice in your discipline. (And not study in the school sense. A masters degree does not an expert make.)

    Once you are an expert, the challenge is to get the word out. At that point, some of the above begins to make sense.

    Be careful–a phony expert may fool some people, but you’ll ultimately be called out as just another charlatan.

  5. All great points, I think that the most important in my opinion is number 5. It seems that most people so far have interpreted this to mean, “Watch the stock market and read the Wall Street Journal,” but I think it’s so much more than this. In order to establish yourself in a specific industry, no matter what function or role you serve in, you MUST know your business model inside and out. I work in the financial services segment, and just recently moved to our Real Estate division. I’m an IT guy, so I have very little background in either finance or real estate, but learning how the business operates and makes money, as well as understanding where the industry is heading in the next 5-10 years will be crucial in order for me to be successful. There a lot of ways to accomplish this, including picking the brain of anyone who will talk to you for 5 minutes (and even more importantly, those that are not in your own department), but no matter how you do it, it’s a vital part of becoming an expert in your field.

  6. Alex – thank you for reading our blog. Please re-read the title of the article. It is NOT “How to BECOME an expert”. It is “How to Establish Yourself As An Expert”. This presumes you already are an expert and now just need a platform. Attention to all non-experts out there: don’t do the things I suggest. You will just embarrass yourself.

    Re your other responses:
    2. You are right. If you don’t have good content don’t have a blog. But if you are expert, I recommend getting published by whatever means necessary (even if it is a lowly blog). How else are you going to get your word out? I guess you could write a book.

    3. I stand by my belief that creativity counts. I should have said, however, that I assume all my candidates are above a certain baseline for raw intelligence. My point is simple: I don’t want robots on my team. I think we all agree that problem solving is important. This takes creativity.

    4. Getting a diploma isn’t what it used to be. Your nostalgia for a bygone era (when diplomas meant something) is touching, but quite irrelevant. I know plenty of morons with four-year degrees. I know even more who have MBAs or graduate degrees – agreeing with Tad here. Some of the most prestigious degrees are not earned, but bought.

    5. What if the market you are discussing is not a financial one? Not everyone sees the world through the lens investment returns.

  7. Not a bad post, but I really must protest against the specifics in #1; providing answers in Yahoo Answers is a ridiculous way to build a reputation, unless you want to be highly regarded by teenagers and illiterates.

    I agree with you that in the future this might be a suitable way to build a rep, however currently, writing to a serious venture like Wikipedia might be useful in terms of reputation, if the opinion-makers of the company are tech-saavy.

  8. Having linked to this post in your 7/23/2008 piece, I assume some other people may very well follow the jump to here as well, and I wanted to offer some support to tip #2. As Tim Ferriss encourages in ‘The 4-Hour Workweek,’ finding ways to be credited in publications as an expert a key step to being recognized for your expertise… and now, Peter Shankman’s Help a Reporter Out mailing list makes it even easier. Check it out some time.

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