These days, there are plenty of advantages to being seen as an expert in your industry. If you’re pursuing a traditional career, your in-depth knowledge is likely to lead to promotions and raises due to your perceived value as a leader amongst your peers. If you run a blog, authority figure status means more website traffic and more income from the products you sell, simply because you appear more exciting to prospective customers.
But fortunately, while the process of becoming an expert in any subject might seem overwhelming, the amount of information available for free on the internet makes it easier than ever to attain this recognition. Don’t worry – you don’t need to go back to school for your PhD. Instead, simply take the following steps in order to boost your own perceived authority:
Step #1 – Identify the authority bloggers in your subject
In order to position yourself as an authority figure in your industry, you first need to know what these experts look like. What kind of subjects do they talk about? How do they interact with their followers? What resources do they recommend that you can take advantage of?
Depending on your familiarity with your industry, you may already know who the top bloggers in your niche are. If not, use tools like Google’s Blog Search or the recommendations of your friends and colleagues to identify the current experts with the biggest, most robust web presences.
Step #2 – Read their most popular posts
Aim to find at least three authority figures that you can follow, and then take the time to read through at least 5-10 of the most popular posts on their websites (which are typically listed on the site’s sidebar).
As you read these posts, pay attention to both the specific topics covered in the articles and the “words of wisdom” shared by the authority figure. If the site allows comments, read through these as well to gain additional insight into the opinions and concerns of other members of your niche. Because you’ve taken the time to identify the most popular posts, written by the most popular people in your industry, you’re earning a great deal of insight into the subjects that matter most to your new audience.
Step #3 – Find the three most popular books on your subject using Amazon
Next up, head to Amazon and use the company’s lists of most popular books and recommendations from past purchasers to identify the most popular books on your desired topic. As a general rule, these books will give you a greater level of industry oversight, compared to the shorter, more immediate concerns of individual blog posts.
Step #4 – Read them (or scan their tables of contents if you don’t have time)
If you have the time, purchase these books (or check them out from your local library) and read through them, taking notes along the way to highlight new ideas or topics that bear further research.
If, on the other hand, you don’t have time to read through three separate books, take the time to at least scan through the index of each book. These pages are often published for free on Amazon or Google Books, and should give you a brief overview of the topics you’ll want to familiarize yourself with in order to be taken seriously as an expert on your chosen subject.
Step #5 – Ask and answer three questions that have come up in your reading
Finally, once you’ve finished the readings described above, go through and identify three specific items on which you need further clarification. Maybe you’ve encountered a term that you didn’t immediately understand, or perhaps on blog post referenced a related topic you’d like more information on. Whatever the case, write down these three questions and use the internet to find the answers you need.
Now, will this process make you a Nobel prize winning expert on any subject? To be fair, no. Perusing blogs and reading books on your chosen topic simply isn’t the same as studying for years upon years in order to deepen your knowledge in a specific field.
However, I’d also argue that in today’s digital world, that level of expertise isn’t always necessary. In nine cases out of ten, attaining perceived expert status in any field simply involves keeping a step or two ahead of the people you hope to reach as an industry expert. And given how many people make absolutely no effort to better themselves through the pursuit of knowledge, this isn’t that difficult!
So follow the process above, and repeat it from time to time. Deepen your knowledge by pursuing other resources you encounter that interest you, and share your newfound insight with others in conversation or in digital communications. Often, there’s no better way to improve your own mastery of a subject than to teach it to others, so get out there and start sharing your new wisdom. You’ll quickly be on your way to expert status!