PR for small business

Fake It Til You Make It: The Business of Being an Expert

Every week I have at least one conversation with a client or fellow entrepreneur about the business of being an expert.

I just cringed as I wrote the words “the business of being an expert”, because really, it sounds wrong. Even after 15 years of doing just that with my clients it gives me the ick. And I’m not alone.

The expert biz is a tricky one which elicits strong responses across the continuum including:

  • Anyone can be an expert
  • Everyone has expertise
  • That person has no business saying they are an expert
  • I could never be an expert
  • I don’t like the word expert

This list is really just the tip of the iceberg and probably explains why I talk SO much about this expert thing.

Tweet: Want to be an expert? You’d better have some proof and other tips from @magspatterson

Fake it Until You Make It

As with every argument, there’s two sides to the story, so I wanted to share my two cents.

The common wisdom is to fake it until you make it and let me tell you, I am completely guilty as charged of doing this, especially as a junior PR pro. But it wasn’t so much a fake…as a stretch. I was pushing to the very brink of what was believable and acceptable.

That’s where the problems start. Experts should be anything but fake. To be an expert, people need to trust you.

Most people have some sort of true expertise but the problem comes when they start reaching too far.

If you build on a foundation of fakery you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

When 5 years experience suddenly becomes 8 or your first year in business becomes a raving success when it actually kind of sucked, you’ve gone too far. People are smarter than you realize and can do basic math. #trustfail

Tweet: Why fake it til you make it is terrible advice with @magspatterson

Positioning Yourself as a Legitimate Expert

For you to be a expert for the long haul, you need to start somewhere. Before you start seeking out PR and other opportunities to build your profile you need to hone in on specific things you can be an expert on.

Waking up one sunny Thursday and deciding you’ll be an expert on some trendy topic or something that a peer in your industry is really dominating is not the path to success.

The good news is that expertise is all relative. So if you are working with social media newbies you may be able to teach them a thing or two about how to use Pinterest. The key is to be able to back up your claims.

You need proof. Customer success. Metrics. Training. Results. Third Party Credibility.

Tweet: Building trust is the key to being a true expert – @magspatterson

Choose your expert niche wisely based on what you can backup. Because the world doesn’t need another wanna be social media ninja or self-proclaimed life coach.

There is a better way. You may just need to dig deeper to find it.

Join me on December 12th for a free webinar Entrepreneur to Expert: How to Become the Go-To Expert in Your Niche to learn more. Click here to register now.