Industry experts can often be diamonds in the rough – brilliant, yet uncovered. They might not even know they could be considered experts with the right visibility. So, how do you know if you are an expert? Or, how do you know if you could become a Visible Expert? The answers might be pleasantly surprising.
You don’t need to have the expert brand associated with yourself like a Frank Gehry or Jim Collins to begin your journey to visible expertise. Those industry stars didn’t establish themselves overnight. In our research, we have identified five Visible Expert levels that range from being recognized as an expert by clients, staff, or colleagues to breaking out of a particular niche and becoming synonymous with an entire area of expertise.
Here are five pre-qualifying traits that you may not think would necessarily be “expert material.” These qualifiers include:
1. You are seen as the “go-to” person within your firm for a particular facet of your business.
Expertise may not always be visible outside of a firm. In our study of purchasers of Visible Expert services, 35% of respondents seek out experts to solve high impact critical problems, and if those problems are solved in-house, then there is an expert in-house. Establishing that expertise in your own firm puts you in a position to market your expertise and increase visibility of your expert brand as well as your firm brand.
2. You have the ability to verbally explain complicated subjects in a way that is easy for others to understand.
After coming highly recommended by friends and colleagues, making a complicated subject seem understandable was the second most identified trait that convinces purchasers that someone is a Visible Expert. This is important to know because relaying complicated information in a way that’s easy to understand is a rare skill that is hard to replicate. This raw skill can be leveraged in speaking engagements and video blogs to increase visibility.
3. You can successfully communicate your area of expertise through written words.
It’s not uncommon that some people are well versed in speaking skills and not so much in their written skills, and vice-versa. Similar to the previous pre-qualifying trait, it is also a rare skill for those wordsmith champions to effectively communicate a complicated subject in text that is easily understood by their audience. This skill can be utilized in the form of blog posts, white papers, articles, guides, and other forms of written content.
4. You are known in the local market and occasionally draw business based on your reputation.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and garnering Level 5 Visible Expert status is analogous to that. The strength of your brand can be calculated as a product of your reputation and your visibility. If your reputation in your local market is strong enough to attract business, then it might be time to think about increasing the visibility of your reputation to tap into a bigger market.
5. Your content marketing efforts have put you in a position as a thought leader to your target audience.
Your blog is gaining traction as a go-to source of educational information in your area of expertise, and since you’re the author, you are credited as a thought leader. You’ve got your audience’s attention, now it’s time to capitalize and close the business. Even in an age of impressive advancing technology, there is still something to be said about face-to-face interaction. In our research, Visible Experts identified speaking engagements and referrals/recommendations as their top two lead sources. At this point, it’s time to put a face with the quality online content and start to reap the benefits of your hard work.
Any one of these traits is a healthy foundation on which to build up your status as a Visible Expert. If building your expert brand is something you want to undertake, then measuring your progress and assessing your status as a Visible Expert will get you on the fast track, but getting on that track is just the beginning.
In addition to the magnitude of visible expertise, our research has shown a difference in behavior based on the rate at which experts accelerate through the different levels of expertise. We call these experts “Fast Trackers” and we identified three characteristics that, if emulated, can distinguish you from the competition and leave your rival experts in the dust.
- Focus on a Niche. Focusing on a target market early in your career will make it easier for you to differentiate yourself from your competition, which will streamline your branding and marketing efforts. It will also allow you to hone in on your specialization and reach expert status faster.
- Embrace Content Marketing. Educational content is an important visibility driver for all Visible Experts, but leveraging content more quickly, more frequently, and across more media will give your expertise the exposure needed to move that train down the line. The impacts of leveraging content marketing early and frequently are a shortened sales cycle due to an educated audience, as well as increased inbound leads, partnership opportunities, and speaking inquiries.
- Write a Book. Writing a book is not the simplest of tasks, but the return on the effort invested is well worth the hard work. Writing an authoritative book confers a tremendous degree of authority and commands respect among peers.
Providers of professional services seeking to build reputation and visibility for their firms should consider cultivating Visible Expert status for the professionals in their organization or department. Our research confirms the presence of high visibility experts in an engagement benefits every participant in the professional services ecosystem, delivering both education and results for clients and heightened success for providers.
To learn more about identifying Visible Expert candidates within your firm and putting these professionals on the fast track to industry stardom, check out The Visible Expert book, available as a free download.