These days I get increasingly frustrated at the growing wave of advice for professionals saying you need to become seen as an expert in your field.
Of course, I’m part of that wave too.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with becoming seen as an expert. That’s a good thing (though it’s far from the only way to succeed, and it’s not suited to everyone).
What gets me worked up is that all the advice on how to do it seems to be missing the point about what it really takes to become seen as an expert.
I’ve read article after article and a bunch of books which all essentially say “write articles, publish a book, do videos, webinars, podcasts”.
And yes, if you want to be seen as an expert you absolutely have to get your message out to people.
But the problem is that literally millions of people are out there writing articles, publishing books, doing videos, webinars and podcasts.
And almost none of them are seen as experts in their field.
I’ll say that again. Almost none of them are seen as experts in their field.
The point isn’t that you publish. That’s a given.
The point is that you have to have something new to say. Something that resonates with your target audience. Something insightful that gives them a new perspective and helps them do something they couldn’t before. Something that simplifies the complex or clears up the fog.
We don’t see Seth Godin as an expert because he’s written lots of books. It’s because his books have great ideas in them.
We don’t see Michael Porter as a leader in the field of strategy because he wrote a couple of books. Lord knows how many wannabe strategy experts have written a couple of books. We see Porter as a leader because his 5 Forces and Value Chain models brought new insights and a new way of thinking when they were published. And they’ve become staples of pretty much every strategy analysis ever since.
So of course, you need to know the mechanics of how to get published, to write blog posts, to do podcasts and videos in just the same way that a great vineyard needs to know how to get its wine out to its customers. But it’s not the distribution system that makes a wine or an expert great. It’s what’s in the bottle or article or video or book.
Far too much of what passes for content marketing is simply common knowledge regurgitated.
No one needs another “7 tips for growing your social media following” article, unless those 7 tips are new and different for your audience.
If you want to become known as an expert, your most important task is to create ideas and insights that are both valuable to your clients and genuinely different to what everyone else is saying. Focus on that first, then worry about how to get it out to the world.
Focus on that and you’ll be doing both yourself and your audience a favour.