6 Ways to Establish Your Subject-Matter Expertise

This was previously published on LinkedIn.

An email marketing professional recently asked, “How can I stand out in the email marketing industry as an expert even if I’m not known?”

This is a great question for anyone trying to kick start a career in any field, and thankfully the internet has made it easier than ever before to establish yourself as a thought leader or expert. It all starts with one word; UTILITY.

Being unknown is a relative thing. If you are human, you have connections and relationships. Start there and build up. You should start providing value to your immediate network and share your knowledge to start establishing your “brand”.

Here are a few practical steps you can take to start building your subject matter expertise and establishing your followership.

  1. Set up a Clarity.fm account in your areas of strength. You might not get a lot of phone consulting clients, but setting up your own profile will help you focus on what exactly you do, and how you provide value. And as you do phone consultations, you’ll have an immediate cycle of feedback as to whether your skills are where they need to be.
  2. Write and publish key ideas and lessons you’ve seen are needed by your potential customers as a blog posts within your Linked In profile. Like this blog post, publishing your expertise in the form of helpful posts lets your network know what you know, and starts attracting attention in the right places.
  3. Attend key conferences in the area of email marketing (or whatever the industry you’re trying to establish yourself in), and connect with other experts in your field. There is always something new you can learn, and you’ll potentially discover opportunities to add value for others.
  4. Publish your own blog under your own domain. This is a long play, and is definitely valuable when you go interview for a job, or when you’re trying to land a speaking gig. Just because you build it, it doesn’t mean readers will come. But, even if you don’t develop a massive readership (most don’t), you’ll have your subject matter knowledge out in the public domain. Whether you are interviewing for a new job, or pitching for a conference speaking gig, having a blog under your own domain establishes your brand and your expertise in your industry.
  5. Write an eBook on your favorite email marketing related topic, and offer it over your LinkedIn profile or personal blog. This is also a great way to start building an email list or building up a customer base, if you’re looking to launch a consulting business.
  6. Reach out to and support your local business development office — many times they are in need of local experts and can offer you first-step opportunities to start getting your name out. You won’t likely make a lot of money from this, but it is a way to practice your key speaking messages, and start connecting with others in your industry at a local level. And, when the bigger opportunities start knocking on your door, you’ll have a ready list of references willing to speak well of you.

There isn’t a silver bullet or easy way up — most of the times, you’re going to have to hustle and make long term investments one step at a time. It takes time and it takes work.

This is not an exhaustive list by far, but are 6 specific practices I have found impacting. What else have you done to establish yourself as an expert in your field? Share with the rest of us in the comments!

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