You are an expert on your topic if you know more about it than most people. I tell my clients to stop thinking of an expert as the person who knows more about something than anyone else in the world. Instead, an expert is the person who knows more about something than anyone else in the room. That is my way of saying that if you know more than the average person about something, you are an expert.
If you have accomplished something, you know more than the people who have not yet accomplished that feat, and you can help them by sharing what you know.
Chances are, there is at least one topic on which you are already an expert. But how do you demonstrate to customers that you are someone whom they should trust and learn from?
You may have formal credentials that identify you as an expert. These may include college degrees, licenses, certifications, and other recognized training. In a previous life, I worked in the insurance industry and I have a bunch of professional designations. When I handed someone a card that had CEBS, CLU, FLMI and an alphabet soup of other credentials after my name, they were impressed that I had earned those designations. Do you have impressive educational or professional credentials?
You should have direct experience in your area of expertise. It is not enough to have read a book or two on how to do it. Have you done it? What kind of results did you achieve? Have you been able to duplicate those results, perhaps in other markets or by helping clients to have success?
- Document your results as specifically as possible. Did you sell a million of something, or six million dollars worth of something? Include numbers and time frames: “I added 40,000 people to my mailing list in one year.”
- List the clients for whom you have worked. Have you had a lot of clients? Are there some impressive names on your client list? Everyone thinks that their situation is unique, so showing that you have helped people or companies like them will give them confidence in you.
- Show testimonials from clients. Testimonials should be specific, describing the benefits they got from working with you. Numbers are good here, too. “Steve showed our sales staff how to close more sales. Their closing percentage increased 150%, and so did our revenues.” Include identifying information, such as name, title and company, when possible.
Are you still actively involved in your industry, or are you just teaching it? Let customers know that you are up-to-date by showing current involvement. Are you still in private practice, seeing clients? Are you involved in the day-to-day operations of your business?
Your experience does not have to be in business. Your life experience may be relevant to establishing your credentials. What in your personal history gives you credibility? You may not be a doctor, but if you managed to lose 150 pounds, you can help others to lose weight, too. (Note: If you are presenting something related to health and you do not have medical credentials, it can be useful to get an endorsement from someone who does have formal credentials, such as a doctor or nutritionist.)
Producing content can make you an expert. A book is a strong credential. Being the author of a book conveys instant authority and establishes you as an expert on your topic. Even if you were not an expert when you started writing the book, by the time you finish it you will be an expert.
Most people tend to underestimate their knowledge and expertise. You know things most people don’t, and they can benefit from what you can teach them or do for them. Don’t hold yourself back.