The key to success in one’s chosen line of business is establishing a position of “authority,” the power to influence others (from the Latin auctoritas, from auctor ‘originator, promoter’). Interestingly, the Romans well understood the power of self-promotion, and a key tool was the speech, first delivered in a forum, then published for wider distribution.
The key to authority lies in knowing what you’re talking about, and expressing it clearly, and a sense of style never hurts. Make you goal to be the best in your little corner of the world, your particular discipline, whether its food packaging design, motion graphics techniques, brand loyalty programs, etc.
Once you have established some level of expert credentials, by being published in the spaces (blogs, zines, trade periodicals, discussions, etc.) frequented by your customer base, you will attract business. As a result of consistent, on-going efforts to educate your peers (and impress your competitors), you are likely to become a big fish in a small pond, but small ponds teem with success, satisfaction and wealth.
And, those folks who truly are wiser about your topic, let them be your teachers and mentors, ever if you never meet face to face. Study their writings; synthesize their best ideas. Surely, give them credit where its due because acknowledging their contribution transfers some of their credibility to you.
Keep it Simple
Don’t kill yourself trying to become the planet’s leading authority on your topic – you’ve got a business to run. Instead, strive to make yourself the most accessible authority, to customers, the press, and your peers.
Enhance your customers’ business lives by translating tough subject matter into accessible bites, or transforming lengthy scholarly articles into interesting pod- or videocasts. Complicated diagrams can be redesigned into striking infographics that tell visual stories. Classic texts can be updated with today’s lingo and the addition of current examples and cases, and turned into an audio or videos series.
Want to learn, teach
There’s no better way to become an expert than to find apprentices and start teaching. Locate people farther down the knowledge food chain (this can be CEOs who haven’t the foggiest notion of your space) and don’t know how, or have the time, to find the basics for themselves. Teach the tried-and-true. It doesn’t matter how many of your so-called competitors are doing it. Strive to do it well, do it regularly, stamp your personality on it, and you’ll find an audience.
As you teach, you’ll find that the “simple stuff” gains new depth and richness. You’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for topic. And, as you keep learning, you’ll attract a more sophisticated audience – both readers and potential publishers. Before you know it, although don’t expect overnight miracles, you will become a guru.
Keep the end in mind
Before you set forth, understand that the goal of becoming an expert isn’t to feel superior; it’s to help your readers, customers and perspective customers. Always remember, it is not about you, it is about those you are helping. If you try to position yourself as “the smartest guy in the room,” you’ll soon find yourself the target of an angry online horde.
On the other hand, serious students are rewarded. When you approach your subject with curiosity, a sense of humility, and a sincere desire to help, fans, friends and followers will find you. Stay focused on the needs of your audience, be committed to an on-going dialogue, and you will be rewarded both psychically and professionally.