This week Hinge presented a joint webinar with Ian Brodie, a UK-based marketing expert, on the topic of becoming a visible expert online. This article is an overview of what was covered in the webinar. To learn more, you can download a complete book on becoming a Visible Expert℠.

In collaboration with Ian, the webinar focused on four primary areas:

  • Visible Experts – who are they?
  • Essential components of a Visible Expert
  • Tactics for raising your online profile and expert position 
  • Blueprint to establish your Visible Expert positioning

So, what is a Visible Expert℠? A Visible Expert is an individual with high visibility and acknowledged expertise who can command influence within a specific target audience. This effort is not about developing a mass appeal or a very broad audience, but rather becoming known within a well-targeted group of people.  While the webinar defined and addressed the benefits of this phenomenon, the Hinge team also wanted to demonstrate how the process works in the real world — as experienced by Ian in his journey to becoming a Visible Expert.

There are many benefits associated with being a Visible Expert. They include:

  • Increase firm visibility
  • Attract new clients
  • Command higher fees
  • Strengthen your firm’s brand
  • The halo effect (transfering a Visible Expert's aura to those around him or her)
  • Attract stronger partners
  • Make recruiting easier

Understanding what makes a corporate brand is not too difficult – we are all familiar with successful brands such as Apple, IBM, or Ameriprise. However, understanding a personal brand is a bit more complex. So what are the essential stops in the journey to becoming a Visible Expert? To become a Visible Expert, you must have:

  • Visibility within the target audience
  • Areas of demonstrable expertise
  • Levels of influence or impact on a specific audience 

Ian’s story is a perfect example of the journey to Visible Expertise. He followed a 3-step process:

Step 1 – Create your platform

  • What genuine expertise do you have?
  • Who is that expertise truly valuable for?
  • What will make you credible to those people?

The key is to start small and focused.

Step 2 – Build Your Content

  • Do you have a unique message
  • Is the message aligned with your 
  • Are you creating content in a format that can be shared widely

Step 3 – Reach your audience

Much like Hinge’s approach to developing Visible Experts, Ian referenced four levers for extending promotional reach:

  • Publishing
  • Presenting
  • Publicity
  • Partnering

However, the key to success is in finding what works best for you, as there are many paths to establishing credibility and building trust.

During the webinar we asked participants the question: Are you interested in Visible Expert for yourself, your firm or others in the firm? Forty-nine percent replied that they were attending out of a personal interest. (By the way, there were approximately 200 webinar attendees.) The answer was not surprising, as the benefits of becoming a Visible Expert are very appealing to many professionals.

We also asked attendees to identify what traits or characteristics would be most impressive in a Visible Expert. Years of relevant experience and writing an influential blog were tied at the top of the list. These were followed by quotes in trade publications and writing a book. Individual recognition with industry awards held the bottom position.

Online, the journey to becoming a Visible Expert can include a variety of tactics, such as:

  • Blogging
  • Podcasting
  • Video
  • Email Marketing
  • Webinars
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

The key is making content creation and promotion a habit. You will also need some basic materials in your toolkit. Some will take longer to develop than others, but the concept is to build out pieces in a variety of formats. Here's a list of ideas to get you started:

  • Expert positioning statement
  • Bios of various lengths
  • Press package (media kit)
  • Professional photography
  • Video
  • Issue papers
  • Robust web presence
  • Consistent and robust social media presence
  • A blog
  • A book

In conclusion, the journey to becoming a Visible Expert will be fraught with experimentation, successes and failures. However, individuals that resolve to set sail — like our friend across the pond — will benefit from more business opportunities and greater professional stature.

I hope that this blog post will give you a little inspiration and a few tools to start the process. Be sure to refer to our free Visible Expert book to get started. Also, you can catch a recording of the online visible expert webinar on our website.