How to be Seen as a Recognized Expert

BlogHer Original Post

As a small business owner, self-employed person, or freelancer one of the main things you want is to be seen as an expert in your field. Sounds nice and simple, but how do you go about doing that, especially when you are in the start-up phase? Sure you may have walked on water in your previous job but unless you are the former CEO of some huge company, a well-known professional athlete or celebrity, or left your last job with a large client pool in tow, once you hang out your own shingle you need to head back to the basics of getting known.

One of the best ways to be seen as an expert in the eyes of others is to be quoted as an expert source in some form of media. If you're like me and crawled from a cube devoid of marketing savvy when you first started, you probably figure it'd be easier to understand how electricity works than to figure out how to get good PR. You don't have to go it alone, though, as there are some great resources you can tap that already have the answer.

One that stands out is called HARO: Help a Reporter Out. Melanie Nelson recently covered the basics of how to use HARO in "What is HARO & How Can I Use It?". Essentially for free you can sign up to receive queries from reporters who are looking for experts and if you see a fit you can contact them directly to pitch yourself as the perfect expert for them. Melanie has listed excellent advice for how to get the most from this tool including how you can most effectively respond to HARO Queries so you get chosen.  Responding is an art form unto itself.  These reporters get hundreds of responses so to stand out, you need to take this advice from Build Buzz


I noted that responding to these queries is an art form. It's not enough to be an appropriate resource for a story or segment -- you have to demonstrate your expertise in a pithy response that makes the journalist think, "She's exactly the person I'm looking for." Your answer has to show you understand what the reporter needs but you have to do it in a way that makes a tired, dullwitted or overworked reporter see this quickly and easily, without doing any more work than is absolutely necessary.

Besides the obvious fact that you need to learn the "Do's and Don'ts for Responding to Haro" (and media queries in general), you need to embrace the fact that you are an expert. That's right, cultivate the unshakeable confidence you need to stand tall in who you are and what you offer.  Without this foundation you are sunk from the start.  If you don't claim it, you either won't put yourself out there or you will do so in a way that feels icky to both you and the recipient.

Jessican Stillman shares five confidence building tips for the self-promotion phobic. At the core of this is the needed inner work required if you are going to put your personal/business brand out there.  one of those tips is:

Use your story - One of the very best assets you have is your own story. That’s what makes you unique. Forget about “fitting in.” Use your story to talk about what matters to you, in the ways that make sense to you.

As Copyblogger puts it (and he is writing specifically about blogging, but this holds true for all business owners):

It takes confidence and guts to ask the big questions of yourself, and even more confidence to put your experience and life out there for the whole world to see.

Getting known as an expert is, like most things in business, a distance run.  You start small by sharing your expertise online, responding to queries, interviewing and being interviewed by others, and getting your message out there bit by bit. There are lots of resources you can tap (see a few of those below) to get started.  Just remember that they all require a strong personal foundation in order to be effective. If you don't embrace your expert status, no one else will.

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life and business coaching for women to help you gain the clarity, confidence, and courage you need to succeed on your own terms. Get the free eCourse "5 Steps to Move from Fear to Freedom" at her website

Get the latest word on personal finances from an LGBT perspective and Paula's practical coach approach to the topic at Queercents



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