These days it pays to be an expert, in fact it is advised that you have to find your niche, hone your skills and put out your expert shingle if you want to succeed.
But what are you an expert in? One way to find out, suggests Fay Chapple, CEO of The Clarity Centre, is to think about what people thank you for – is it for marketing, financial advice, or in the case of one woman in the group – compassion and kindness.
No sooner had she said that, she questioned how useful those skills would be and how do you use them? Immediately I thought of customer service, of building trust and perhaps working with people who are hurting in some way. Dealing with someone who seems to care, can make all the difference and in the case of the health industry (where this person worked) a patient would feel less isolated as she went through a procedure.
But when I turned this question on myself, I had a hard time answering it too. What do I do that people appreciate. I guess I am a connector, a match maker and a small business start up coach. I like to think I can see the potential in people and look beyond the immediate and obvious at what they would be good at.
I started my career in the UK in human resources, so I guess I was on the right track, even back then. Slotting people into the right positions was something I had to do. But what if your expertise is not that obvious to you? Or you haven’t found it yet. Here’s eight steps to help get you on the right track.
1. Ask around. Talk to friends. Find out what strengths they see you possessing. It’s actually quite a rewarding exercise and you can get to see yourself as others see you.
2. Take an inventory of what you like to do. Look at previous positions and pull out the common denominators of what you enjoyed doing. For example, I found a common thread of writing and translating complex issues into simple language – be it fundraising proposals, government reports or magazine articles, so clearly whatever I do, it should draw on my communication skills.
3. Study the marketplace. Where are the gaps? What do your customers seem to want and need? Is there a way you can fulfill and provide solutions to their issues? Can you develop your tools to do this?
4. Use social media. Actively participate in discussion groups in your industry. Find and/or write articles to share which help build your reputation as someone in the know. Start a blog.
5. Get connected. Move in the right circles. Build relationships with leaders in your industry. Ask for their support and advice, but be respectful of their time.
6. Make presentations. Give talks on your topic. Set up seminars to provide information to your potential clients/customers.
7. Write a book. It gives you a platform to launch yourself as an expert in your field, and often the sales of books are higher, when you’ve given a presentation.
8. Volunteer. Get involved with your industry association or a non profit organization within your sector.
None of this happens overnight. It takes time, experience and patience.
You have to earnyour reputation as an expert and most of us are a work in progress because the
learning never ends.