I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has told me that they are an expert. Expertise is an extremely potent source of power and influence, especially when it is in high demand and comes from a credible source. Little wonder that everyone wants to be an expert.
Credibility is an internal system of judgement we apply to a source of information which helps us to assess its quality and reliability. We will take more notice of a source which appears credible. The criteria for credibility will vary from person to person based on their experience of the subject matter and of life in general. So you need to think carefully about how you are establishing your credibility ― and this is as important to people working inside large organisations as it is to external consultants.
When I am coaching someone in this area, I like to stretch and challenge. If someone says they are an expert, I like to see how they answer questions like…
- Can you be more specific about your area of expertise? Most experts have a tightly defined niche. Being an expert in Customer Service is far too broad.
- Who are the other experts in your field? Experts tend to be very aware of their peers and rivals.
- Who are the leading academics/researchers in your subject? I’ve yet to come across a field which is static and ignored by academics.
- What are the emerging trends, issues and challenges that people are facing in your area? Experts are usually engaging actively in developing their field.
- How have you been recognised within your specialism by your peers, clients, industry? Expertise is demand-orientated and should be recognised if it’s valued.
- Have you established your voice, spreading your views and ideas publicly? Experts don’t sit in closets; they get out there and make a contribution.
- How are you expanding your profile/brand? Experts should have a plan. In my experience, most don’t.
- Can you show me your toolkit? The tools of the trade, the models and the frameworks are critical devices to enable the expert to deliver their service.
Becoming recognised as an expert within your organisation is a great way of increasing your personal power and influence. That you are recognised outside of your organisation can only improve your position.
How would you have fared answering the questions above? Even as I write them, I realise that there is more I could be doing too.
How to Boost Your Credibility
No, don’t think about the somewhat dubious yet popular measures of credibility such as Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers. They may be easy to see, but social proofing in this manner is losing its power ― rapidly. Instead…
- Assemble a toolkit of your processes and resources. Use pictures and diagrams to demonstrate how things work and how you apply your expertise.
- Use your toolkit to refine your thinking about exactly what you are an expert at or in. Be bold and write it down. Also, make sure you are clear about the boundaries of your expertise.
- Use your toolkit as you deliver your expertise. Show people the journey, the process or the approach you are going to take.
- Reach out and network with others who have similar interests and specialisms. Collaborate with the best and grow together.
- Invite other experts to talk to your team/company. Then share the podium with them.
- Ensure that you have a clear notion of how others benefit from your expertise. What is the value proposition that will stimulate demand for your insights?
- Extend your knowledge by studying how your area of expertise relates to other businesses, countries and industries.
- Make sure you have all the key books and papers on your topic. Make sure you have all the other books too.
- Capture your thoughts and ideas and find a way of publicising them.
- If you can, commission research and get others in your field involved too. Become the leader, driving and making it happen.
- Don’t over-commercialise your expertise. Have faith that revenue and reward will follow your gift of knowledge.
- Create a plan to develop and promote your expertise.
There are many other things which you can do, but I wanted to leave you with a thought. Just about everyone I meet has within them the potential to be an expert. Most people in large organisations have vague notions of what this is, but they usually lack clarity and have too many things that they are extremely good at. They cannot see the career opportunity that is sitting right there in front of them. They need to focus.
Colin Gautrey is an author, coach, and trainer who specialises in the practical use of power and influence in large organisations. He has 25 years’ experience helping middle/senior professionals to survive, thrive and enjoy their work.
If you are ready to develop your influencing capability, become a member of Breakthrough Influence. If you are serious about becoming highly influential, fast, engage with Colin and he will help you get there in the most effective way possible.
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