Positioning Yourself as an Expert
CLEAR COMMUNICATION IS KEY TO getting your message across to others, but why should people listen, particularly if they don't know who you are? Positioning yourself as an expert is a marketing tactic used by business people, authors, public speakers and anyone else who wants to be heard and viewed as credible.
Whether you are looking to be a speaker at an event, get hired as a consultant or be quoted by the media, you have a better shot at a positive response when you tout yourself as an expert.
In my case, I learned about the Internet in the late '80s and about the Web in 1994. Because I had been online for several years before most people even had a modem in their computer, I decided that I could honestly position myself as an Internet expert.
My next step was to provide some of my knowledge to others in the form of an Internet marketing column that I wrote for a local neighborhood newspaper. In lieu of payment, I opted for a short credit line at the end of each column that promoted me as an Internet consultant and expert. The columns not only led to a high-paying client, they also offered excellent material for my media kit.
If you aren't a writer but have expertise in some area, you can hire a writer to develop several articles that you can submit to relevant publications including industry trade magazines, organization newsletters or even content Web sites. If you have expertise to share, there are many publications seeking informative content at a low cost. Your goal is to get a credit line that positions you as an expert.
Creating and distributing a media kit is your next step to positioning your-self as an expert. The most common format for a media kit is a folder with two pockets inside where you include important information, such as:
1. Your Biography (bio) - A one-page description about your education and work background directly related to your areas of expertise.
2. Talking Points - A one-page list of topics you can speak about authoritatively.
3. Testimonials - If you have clients you consult, ask them for positive quotes about your work. If you have spoken successfully to various groups, ask the organizers to say something about the quality of your presentation.
4. Media Clips - If you have been quoted by the press or published articles related to your expertise, include copies and highlight where you were quoted or your byline. If you are just starting out, include copies of the text of several articles that you - or a hired writer - have composed.
5. 8x10 Publicity Photo - A publicity photo is typically a black and white headshot (from the chest up), but it can be an action shot or an image of you in a relevant setting, such as in a corral with horses if you are a horse expert or in a factory assembly line if you are an expert on production efficiency.
When I began pitching myself as an Internet expert, I was one of many. When I narrowed my focus to pitch myself as an Internet expert focused on women and girls online, I suddenly was in demand. Taking a broad topic and honing it to something very specific, interesting or unusual increases your chances of getting called, quoted or hired.
Being an expert requires maintenance. You need to keep up with the industry, trends and competitors. But once you are an established expert in an area, you can continue to leverage that position in all of your professional endeavors.
Aliza Sharman is a Toastmaster in California.