Why should I listen to you?
Why should I listen to you about this?
It’s hard to admit, but…sometimes you feel like a fraud.
There’s a huge gap between how you present yourself online and how you feel day to day or in conversations with others.
You know that to be credible, people must see you as an authority, but how often do you feel you deserve that influence?
Surely, you have a solid understanding of your domain, and you’re expanding your knowledge every day, but are you indeed an authority?
In truth, being seen as an authority is as much about your confidence as it is about the depth and breadth of your experience and knowledge. If you act like an authority, people tend to treat you like one.
However, here’s the point. Knowledge begets confidence. Moreover, if you sometimes feel like a fraud, it just means you don’t have quite enough knowledge and experience yet.
So the question you might have is: What do I need to know to present myself as an authority in my topic confidently?
Also, how can I acquire that knowledge and confidence as quickly as possible?
It’s called being an authority on a specific subject. It’s not about being an authority on every subject. It’s only about being an authority on one specific topic. No one can be an authority on everything.
The Truth About Being an Authority
In some fields, recognized qualifications mean you are an actual authority.
For example, would you let anyone but a qualified surgeon operate on you?
However, in the most popular online content fields (blogging, online video, etc.), no universally accepted qualifications exist. And yet recognized authorities still occupy those fields.
So what does being an authority honestly mean?
Some think that it comes down to the amount of time you’ve spent studying a topic or learning a skill—author Malcolm Gladwell says that 10,000 hours seems to be the mystical number.
Here’s the catch. Authority status is not absolute—it’s relative.
Those whom you look up to as authorities will have people that they look up to as authorities too.
Even if one person is considered the most knowledgeable by everyone else in your field, does that mean they’re the only authority on that topic?
Of course not.
So a better way to define an expert is as follows:
Being an authority = someone who has enough knowledge to help others confidently.
For that to happen, you must have the confidence to act like an authority in front of your audience, client, prospect, or co-workers. That means you must feel like an authority.
The key to feeling like an authority is having enough of the right knowledge that you feel comfortable in the company of others with similar experience and knowledge.
So here’s our ultimate guide to becoming a confident expert in record time.
“Minimum Viable Knowledge” for Authority Status
Becoming an authority will take your career to the next level and help you add massive value to your company. By following these four steps, you can dominate any field or industry immediately:
Step 1: Study
Your fundamental step to expertise is to identify the world’s five top experts on a topic/skill and to read one or more books by each expert. (You could also participate in their online courses, live seminars, or training programs.)
Now, make sure you learn from the right people. Thanks to the internet, anyone can self-publish a book or create an online course and call themselves an “expert” on any topic. Learning from unqualified sources will stunt your growth. Make sure you learn from the best in the world and don’t just look for the most current expert.
Step 2: Apply
While you’ll benefit just from absorbing the wisdom of thought leaders, you can’t become a real expert on a topic/skill until you apply your new understanding. For example, you can’t become an expert on marketing just by reading about marketing; you have to execute marketing campaigns.
You can’t become an expert on user experience and design just by reading about UI/UX; you have to design and manage user interfaces. You can’t become an expert on LinkedIn or Facebook only by reading books about social media; you have to use the platforms. By using what you learn through your initial study, you’ll increase your understanding of the content and fill in some of the gaps found in even the world’s best books or online training programs.
Step 3: Summarize
Before any exam in university, a major part of my studying process was to go through my textbook and notes and create a concise review sheet of the primary ideas and concepts.
This important step forced me to identify the key points and to distill the views of the authors and my professors into my own words. Besides, my summary was much easier to review before the exam than a 500-page textbook. So, after you read your five books (or buy a course, attend a seminar, etc.) and once you’ve applied what you have learned, you should create a summary of your new knowledge. This will deepen your learning even further and leave you with a very concise, valuable resource to refer to for years.
Step 4: Teach
Now that you’ve studied, applied, and summarized what you have learned, you can strengthen your mastery by teaching your findings to others.
We call our internal training sessions, Breakfast with [NAME]. An hour each week is set aside for us to teach each other.
You can, and should, “teach” your topic by writing articles and/or delivering presentations about what you have learned. This will not only reinforce your skills, but it will benefit others who will then see you as an authority.
Expert Brand Positioning
It’s important to display your expertise in the public domain. This can be done with a variety of methods, but I have found that creating written content, webinars, and videos are the best way to put your brand out there.
Hand in hand with these types of content is social media. It’s important to keep up with the latest and greatest, make comments on them, and post your content on your own channels to further your brand positioning.
Create Authority Content
Something that a lot of you aren’t understanding about becoming an authority with content is that you’re in it for the long run.
It’s a long-term game.
You can’t just put out content for a few months and think that’s enough to be an authority. You’re not doing it just to bait your customer into a right hook and make a quick buck. You’re building trust and leverage. And that takes a while. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. So make sure that you publish quality content regularly over a variety of mediums and use social media to build up your authority.
Here’s a bit more on how to establish authority over the different mediums:
Establish Blog Authority: How Your Blog Activity Gives You Credibility
Notice that I used the word “activity” here. One of the key components to building credibility with a blog is how often you post. Don’t get me wrong, quality is also of the utmost importance, but quantity will get you seen more often, get your name recognized more often, and can contribute to your videos and social media (see below).
Here are a few tips to help build your blog and demonstrate that you are an authority on the subject:
- Clear and compelling content: Find out what people want to know and write about it in a way that engages them and keeps them coming back for more. Make sure your introduction is short, to the point, and tells them what they need to know about the article and how they will benefit from reading it. If the topic can be dry, then personalize it or link it to a topic that is more relatable.
- Keyword/SEO Strategy: Try to identify keywords that rank well on your subject matter. Look for articles with those keywords by doing a search. Your goal is to outrank those top articles. You need to create longer, more informative, more engaging content in order to do that. When doing so, make sure that you use your keyword in the first and last 100 words, use it every 200 words throughout the post and include related keywords to help define the context.
- Layout: Keep your paragraphs short. No full-page paragraphs on a blog post; 2-5 sentences should be the norm for the majority of the paragraphs. Include subheadings that easily convey the benefit outlined in each section. Break up long blocks of text with whitespace and images.
- Share: Once published, share the post with your colleagues, your mailing list, and post it on various social media accounts.
Establish YouTube Authority: How Your Online Videos Give You Credibility
Demonstration or how-to videos are a good way to help you establish your authority, primarily because people can look you in the eye, so to speak. Viewers have the ability to read visual clues to tell if you are genuine and knowledgeable or trying to fake it until you make it. Stuttering, stammering, long pauses, looking uninterested…all clues that can undermine your expertise. Granted, nerves can also cause this type of behavior in a presenter, so you need to make sure you are not only confident of your subject matter, but also with the technology you are using to shoot a video.
It’s important to be somewhat tech savvy (or have a friend who is) and to be well rehearsed. You’ll want to either draft a presentation or talking points that you can use. Do several dry runs and have several people review those videos and provide feedback: camera angles, facial expressions, lapses in the presentation. This will be a tough go the first time or two, but once you start producing videos, it will get much easier.
Then, set up a YouTube channel, upload and start promoting the videos on your social media and on your blog. Cross-promotion is the key.
Establish LinkedIn Authority: How LinkedIn Gives You Credibility
LinkedIn is the premier space for branding in the business world. You have access to business professionals in your field, which you can influence and educate with your content. Sharing your content on this platform helps to build your credibility, your presence, and your contacts. With over 500 million members, it’s one of the best ways to reach out and share your expertise. Make sure you connect with colleagues and clients on LinkedIn. While the quantity of contacts is important, so is the quality of those contacts. Try to focus on those people who are in the same business as you, who have the same interests, or who can benefit from your expertise.
In addition to sharing content—be it a blog post, professional article/publication, video or webinar—it’s also important to keep your profile up to date and add to your recommendations. If you share content and people want to know more about you and your expertise, they’ll naturally go to your profile. It’s important to fill in as much information as possible—jobs, education, experience, professional affiliations, and your publications. It’s also important that contact information is up to date, including email and all social media channels that you use for business.
Recommendations can also go a long way in proving your expertise and authority. These can come from employers, colleagues, clients, and professionals who have attended one of your webinars.
Finally, participate on a regular basis on LinkedIn. This can be in the form of groups, publication of content, kudos to fellow professionals, anything that increases your visibility on the site.
Establish Facebook Authority: How Facebook Gives You Credibility
More users. More Likes. More Targeting. More brands! Facebook is non-negotiable. Everybody needs to be using the service.
If you want to build authority using Facebook, you should follow these steps:
- Post daily on Facebook: The content you post (status updates, videos, pictures) should be related to the industry you want to brand yourself in.For example, I want to be known as a marketer. So the content I post on Facebook is marketing related.
- Engage within your community: When someone messages you, you need to read it and respond. When someone leaves a comment, you need to respond.There are also groups and fan pages within your niche…make sure you participate on those as well. Comment, respond and engage.
- Live videos: Facebook puts a lot of emphasis on live videos. It is their version of reality TV.Consider going live on Facebook at least once a week because it will be seen by more people compared to just posting status updates. Facebook is putting more emphasis on video and so should you.
Just like the written word and spreading that word via social media, speaking on the topic of which you are an expert can go a long way in building your reputation and authority. Oftentimes this can be informal seminars in your office, presentations to professional groups, simple YouTube videos, or full-on webinars (recorded or live).
You’ve probably already designed content, given that you have written blog posts or published professional articles. You can take the written word and turn it into something else useful and present it to a live audience. Face-to-face contact in this manner can be much more impactful than a blog post. You’re giving people the opportunity to see you in action and ask questions, both of which can enhance your professional standing in their eyes.
Authority in Sales Communication
Having authority is necessary and useful in a sales communications. All that effort you’ve put in to establish the authority won’t go too far without your ability to communicate it to others.
In conversations with potential clients/buyers, you may need to:
- Lecture them about their behavior – this is annoying and offensive
- Warn them about impending horrors – which they may not wish to hear
- Prescribe new or different behavior – even though they want different results without different behavior
- Request their trust
To do these things and make an impression, you must have the authority to do so.
Having authority means getting the authority figure response: I’ll do it because HE said so.
The “tougher” the prospect, the more you must “pile on” to establish your authority…including:
- Accomplishments they envy and would like to equal
- The status they envy and would like to acquire
- Endorsement of people or institutions they respect
- Successful experience
- Having overcome sufficient adversity, they cannot dismiss you as irrelevant
- Expressed indifference to their personal response to you
Get on the Fast Track to Authority Status
Deep down you know that if you follow the right experts and absorb the right books, blogs, and talks, you’ll feel more like an authority yourself.
However, the effort seems daunting. It will take hundreds of hours, surely!
That’s why you haven’t done it yet. And that’s why you still feel like a fraud.
In actuality, you can feel like an expert with much less knowledge than you think. And gaining the knowledge you do need is quicker than you ever thought possible.
Just imagine really feeling like the confident authority you dream of becoming. Imagine describing yourself as an expert to others and not feeling the slightest twinge of anxiety.
Remember, that feeling of quiet confidence, of being an authority, is now within your grasp.
You’re ready. You have the tools you need.
So get started. Become the confident authority your audience, company, prospects or clients deserve.