Industry and other professional stars are not always gods among women and men. Often, they are regular people like everyone else. When they speak to a crowd of their peers, they are not necessarily the brightest minds in the room — which they freely admit. Most are ordinary people, albeit people who have taken their reputations to extraordinary heights. They become well-known and are sought-after conference speakers. They are well-respected and command better fees. As Aaron Taylor (Hinge Marketing), however, notes: “Some experts stand a little taller. And a few tower as sequoias above the rest.” Hinge Marketing has given this select group a special name – “visible experts”.
Taylor defines visible experts as follows: “Visible Experts are professionals who have achieved prominence in their industries. They are quoted in the media and invited to speak at conferences. They are admired by their peers and sought out by clients. Their celebrity status allows them to command higher fees. And in rare circumstances, they may even become household names. Visible Experts are exactly what their name implies: individuals whose expertise and exposure rise above the rest. At the very highest echelons, Visible Experts are often trend setters, innovators, and leaders. But those aren’t essential traits. Most of them are mere mortals whose big idea was their conscious decision to build a personal brand.”
Taylor importantly and helpfully adds: “In fact, there are only three things you need to become a Visible Expert (other than actual expertise, of course — that’s a prerequisite):
- A willingness to teach – Visible Experts are teachers. That’s how they build their reputations. They willingly and openly share their expert knowledge without any jealousy or fear of revealing their secrets. In today’s Internet-fuelled world, information on virtually any topic is a few keystrokes away. If you aren’t sharing valuable knowledge, then someone else will. When you share your knowledge and teach people in your target audience how you solve the kinds of problems they have, something magical happens. You position yourself as a special kind of expert — one who not only demonstrates a mastery of the material but is unselfish, approachable and utterly helpful. You become essential and easy to trust. It doesn’t take long before that trust develops into preference.
- Good communication skills – Of course, you can’t be a good teacher if you aren’t a strong communicator. Visible Experts are usually very good at translating complex ideas into easy-to-understand concepts. When you are writing or speaking, leave your technical jargon at home. Instead, communicate at the level of a non-specialist. For some people, this comes easily. Others have to work at it. If you are in the latter camp, don’t fret. Nobody is good at everything, and to a large degree, clear communication skills can be learned.
- Commitment – All aspiring Visible Experts have to acquire new skills and develop new habits in the course of their ascent. And that requires a sustained commitment. Whether you are learning SEO techniques or trying to write a blog post every week (or both), you have to set aside the time and summon the energy to make the steady, incremental progress it takes to climb the mountain. Visible Experts aren’t made in a day or a week or even a few months. You’ve got to maintain your new mindset for the foreseeable future. The good news is that it gets easier the longer you stay on the path.
Build your professional brand. It takes care, consistency, and commitment to grow a brand that is perceived to be credible. To move from being an expert to being a visible expert requires your generosity with your knowledge, good communication skills aimed at relevant networks, and commitment to get the brand-building work done.
PS: Much appreciation to Aaron Taylor (Hinge Marketing) for valuable insights