Throughout my career one thing that has always struck me is how the idea of putting one’s self forward can be incredibly uncomfortable and confronting for many people. Calling one’s self an expert can make people squirm in their seat and they don’t want to be seen as having ‘tickets on themselves’.
Whether it’s a fear of putting yourself forward or not wanting to be seen as bragging, the idea that promoting yourself is a bad thing is at odds with the reality that people are looking for thought leaders and role models.
I genuinely believe the world would be a better place if more people shared their ideas, opinions and expertise. But this requires more people to step forward and share their stories with the purpose of helping others.
I myself have struggled to own the ‘word’ expert. I’ve asked myself at various times, “Do I really know more than the next person when it comes to PR and social media? Do I know enough to really be an expert?”
But there came a point in 2010 when I was asked to deliver a presentation to over 100 people when I confronted these thoughts. As I stood on the stage gathering my courage to speak I realised, “Who was I not to share my hard won knowledge and experience? Who was I not to have a voice? How could I not share what I knew and help those people in front of me?”
We need to rethink the concepts of self-promotion, thought leadership and expertise. What I learnt was putting yourself forward isn’t actually about you, it’s about the people you could potentially reach and help in some way. How can this be a bad thing?
Here’s my advice for anyone who is ready to share their expertise:
‘Be’ the expert
Shake off those self-limiting beliefs like: Do I know enough? Do I know more than the next person? Am I really an expert? We all have stories, experiences and knowledge that will help others in some way. We have all experienced situations throughout our lives that should be shared because others will benefit from it.
Find your stories
When you start telling your stories and sharing your expertise to help people, you will be amazed with the emotional connection you start building with people. Your stores can be personal stories, professional stories or stories that let people know who you are, what you do and what you stand for.
Tell the world
PR and social media are great vehicles for telling your story and reaching out to people, like your customers. They can be used to build your profile, reputation and credibility. When you are well recognised as an expert in your field, your target audience, key organisations and the media take notice of you. Naturally this can lead to more sales, more paid speaking opportunities, more referrals and opportunities you never even dreamed of start falling into your lap.
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field.