Recently I was speaking to a group of business people. During the Q&A, many said that “being seen as an expert” was one of the top problems they struggled with. They wanted to come across as the expert, go-to resource. But they didn’t want to describe themselves as “amazing” or “gifted.”
Their instincts were right on. In a popular HBR article, Dorie Clark points out that nobody will argue if you say you’re passionate about something. But, she says, “they can argue plenty if you call yourself a “social media expert” (or, heaven help us, a “guru” or “ninja”). You can’t crown yourself as an expert; you need to be recognized.
You can demonstrate your expertise by pointing to comments made by others; by showing you were interviewed by notable media or respected industry leaders; and by being quoted in publications.
When it comes to attracting clients, you’ll often need to demonstrate expertise through copywriting. And as Dorie Clark says in the same article,
It’s important to demonstrate your expertise with stories, not words.
Saying ‘I’m great at pitching investors’ sounds pretty egotistical. But sharing a compelling tale of how you rounded up seed funding allows others to deduce your skill without having to make it explicit.”
When clients hesitate to hire you, the reason is often related to your position as an expert. Clients rarely question a source’s credibility. In fact, they’ll just hold back, thinking, “Something doesn’t seem to be working.”
Here are two ways to enhance your position as an expert.
1 — Position yourself as an expert with your story.
It’s important to understand that “your story” doesn’t always mean “your story.”
You can share stories about how you became an expert by solving your own problem. One consultant lost her bank account when she accidentally deposited a fraudulent check. She spent many hours researching solutions and wrote an ebook to save others from similar hassles.
But you can also share a story of how you helped clients. You can share stories that explain the concept of what you offer — using what I call concept…