Have you ever eavesdropped on a conversation between a co-worker and someone from upper management and found yourself wondering why the heck this person has the job title that they do? Titles like “Senior Account Manager” or “Chief Operating Officer” are sometimes just that; titles. Unfortunately, a title doesn’t automatically make you an expert in your industry or field. In fact, there are plenty of people with authoritative titles that know very little about what their title claims they should know. Titles, however, typically mean a larger paycheck and who doesn’t want a larger paycheck? Am I right?
So how do you position yourself as an authority or expert in your career, gain the title and paycheck you desire and actually know what the heck you are talking about? The short answer: hard work and determination. But when that just isn’t enough, here are some helpful tips you can use to jumpstart your journey to becoming an authority.
Put on your “deep” thinking cap
Before you go about trying to become this so called “expert” who has all this so called “authority” in your career field or life in general, you need to ask yourself one question; why? Why do I want to become an authority? Is it for more money, more power, or more confidence? We all have underlying motivations for anything we want to achieve in life; becoming an authority is no different. You need to determine your “whys” and decide if it’s a genuine desire. Decide now if becoming this “expert” will give you the things you are truly after in life.
Learn from the best
There is no use reinventing the wheel. Almost anything you want to achieve in your life or your career has most likely already been achieved by somebody else. We are all humans which means we all have similar desires. You can bet there is someone in your career field who has already successfully positioned themselves as an authority. Learn from them, study them, see how they achieved that status and then imitate them. Learn from their mistakes, ask for advice, and find a mentor who can encourage you along the way.
Become the Mr. or Mrs. Go To
You know how when you have a certain problem about a certain topic you typically have at least one go-to person that you think will have a solution for you? Whatever your area of expertise may be, become that go-to person to at least one other person. Once you’ve established your knowledge and trustworthiness with that individual, let them know that you are always open to helping others with similar problems. Position yourself and open yourself up to helping other people solve their problems in the area you want to gain authority in.
You can be good at many things, but chances are you will never be exceptional at many things. Choose where you will focus your energy, concentration and expertise. Don’t call yourself an expert baker. Instead proclaim that you are exceptionally skilled at baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Specialize, focus, and dig into one topic. Learn it inside and out. Once you know everything there is to know about that topic (chances are you won’t ever reach this stage or at least not for a while), then you can add a similar topic to your expertise. Learn how to bake the perfect sugar cookie, then the perfect oatmeal cookie. Eventually, you will become an expert baker. Understand that becoming an expert is a gradual process and have the patience to grow with your expertise.
Don’t sell yourself, let others do it for you
There is nothing worse than hearing someone brag about how great they are or how much they know. No one likes to feel belittled or inferior, so don’t run around tooting your own horn! Instead, let others do the talking for you. Use resources like LinkedIn to ask for recommendations from people who you have helped. Let others speak about how impressed they are with the expertise you provided them. Guess what? Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool around. So if you help someone out, request that they share their story with a friend who might also need help in the same area.
Be about others
Last but not least, this isn’t (or shouldn’t be) all about you. You’ve gained the knowledge, skills, authority and position that you desired so now what are you going to do with it? Are you going to hoard it or are you going to share it? There are tons of people out there that need what you have and all you really have to do is start sharing. If you see someone with a problem and you have the answer, offer your help. Do this, not in a demeaning way, but from a genuine desire to help others. When you are genuine and truly want to help someone else that shows through and makes your position of authority even that much stronger.
There you have it. Hard work, determination and these simple steps can help you gain authority and become the expert you so desire to become. Once you’ve reached expert status, just remember; in life, you get back what you give and this situation is no different. Become something great and then help bring others up to greatness with you.