Expert in your Field—Build it and they will come
You do not need to be smartest person in the room or in your company to be viewed as the expert. You need to have learned (hopefully from the best you could find) from your experiences and transformed your knowledge into an advantage. While I am a supporter of formal education, being book smart is not enough to be a true expert. To really learn, you need to put what is in your head into action by bringing your experiences to solve your current issues and to share the results with others.
One definition of an expert is “someone who has gained experience through practice or education in something”. How do you “become” an expert? First of all, your expertise needs to be something you are interested in. Becoming an expert does not just happen, it takes time, and you must be dedicated to it. Because it takes time, you need to have and stay focused on learning and staying relevant. Also, if you do not truly enjoy what it is you are doing, people will sense that and discount the information you are trying to convey.
Some experience comes with age. When you are around longer, you are exposed to many things through observation, and sometimes a bit of osmosis. In order to receive the benefit of those types of experiences, you need to be receptive. Not everyone is receptive, they fail to embrace the insight from the opportunities right in front of them. Sometimes experiences just happen and you assume others who also experience what you have now know what you know. But that is not always the case. Everyone takes something different away; each person interprets it differently; views it through their own lens based on their past and builds on that. As a result, each person possesses unique experiences and skills to bring to the table. Taking this one step further by conveying your niche knowledge, you are giving others insight into your unique expertise and are then viewed as having superior knowledge.
How do you find the people who want and/or need your knowledge? Get involved in your industry; attend events and get to know others. Since they are in your industry, there will be common interests and a bond will easily be formed. Create a network of those individuals who are looking to connect around your expertise and spread your message. People will follow you because they know you know your stuff and therefore will be able to solve problems for them.
Let others know you are smart by positioning yourself as the best. Market your skills and willingness to help. You have to be willing to give your knowledge to others in order for your insight to be valued by others. Through sharing, you will create status among your peers, the public, and your customers. The end result is that you become an influencer.
Before you can become the best in what you do, you must first believe that it is possible for you. Once you can do this, you can become an expert, the followers will come and you will have built an amazing network. Do not be afraid to embrace your uniqueness. You have so much to offer to your followers. It would be a shame if you do not enrich the world by you being in it and sharing your brilliance.