Share Your Expertise with the World and Open a World of Possibilities
Do you see yourself as an expert? Whenever I interview someone for my Own Your Expertise interview series, I’m always surprised to discover that my interviewee doesn’t consider herself an expert. This happens more often than you might expect.
I have two — nearly simultaneous — responses upon hearing this:
- I want to push back: “Of course you’re an expert. I think you’re an expert and chose to interview you for my series, so you must be an expert”
- I nod my head in appreciation of the messiness of expertise: “Of course you don’t think you’re an expert. You’re right in the thick of things. You’ve forgotten how far you’ve come because you’re focused on how far you have yet to go.”
The first response says much more about me and my own view about expertise than it says about my interviewee. But it is a good reminder that the way we see ourselves is often not the way others see us.
I really want to focus on the second response, though, because it is one of the biggest obstacles to owning and sharing your experience with the world. And it really is important for experts to share their ideas with the world. We are starved for experts who can translate their work for non-experts.
The World Needs Your Expertise
Because we tend to think of success as linear, it’s easy to lose sight of the value of sharing unfinished work. When I say that expertise is messy, I mean it’s hard to know when you’ve “achieved” expert status. So, one thing that might hold you back from sharing your expertise is that it always feels like a work in progress.
Not too many people are brave enough to open their messy houses to the world, let alone share their messy ideas. Think about it. How many self-help books are retrospectives? I can’t think of a single counterexample. We’re always reading about failures after the fact, when everything turned out okay and the lessons have been learned.
This is not to diminish the value of seeing the whole journey laid out — from wanting to make a change to trying to failing to overcoming the challenges and learning. There’s a good reason this is a go-to formula for movies and novels. We eat up these kinds of hero stories.
But let’s also not forget the value of sharing how the sausage is made. Not only are we starved for experts who can share their work with us, we’re also starved for:
- Seeing experts make mistakes,
- Seeing experts admit to making mistakes, and
- Seeing experts doing the hard work of overcoming those mistakes.
Here are three reasons the world needs YOUR expertise:
1. You can prove vulnerability is not weakness.
If you, with all your experience and fancy credentials, feel unsure about sharing your expertise with the world, imagine how non-experts feel about sharing their ideas. Owning your expertise publicly is a great opportunity for you to be a role model for others.
In a culture where we are trained to think of success as linear, it can be so powerful to see experts out in the world making themselves vulnerable. And again, vulnerability is not simply telling stories about past mistakes. It’s also about publicly sharing current mistakes and accepting uncertainty as well.
You can disrupt the belief that vulnerability is weakness by bravely stepping forward and standing in your stark vulnerability. This is not easy. It’s difficult for even those who have reached the very peak of their expertise. But it can help to put your own knowledge into perspective.
Remember two key points here: when you share your expertise with non-experts, they will learn something and no one expects you to know more than you do.
2. We all need to do our part to stop the “epidemic of misinformation.”
Some have argued that we’re experiencing an epidemic of misinformation. Since I started teaching philosophy to undergraduates, I’ve believed that critical thinking is one of the most underrated skills. It is the one skill that can benefit any citizen living anywhere in the world
Because the Internet allows for anyone to put their ideas out there anonymously and because there are so many who aren’t afraid to spread lies or half-truths, we all need to get savvier about identifying false information.
As an expert, you can do your part by putting out well-researched, thoughtful, accessible articles and social media posts about your area of expertise. You are also better equipped than many to call out bullsh*t and challenge the misinformation you see.
3. You can gain the respect of others in your field and beyond.
Indeed, the world needs your expertise, but this isn’t solely a plea for altruism. I’m not simply trying to pull on your heart strings. You need to let the world know about your expertise for you. If you feel underappreciated among your colleagues or within your field of expertise, creating more of a public persona for yourself can be an avenue to earning the respect you crave.
Who knows? At some point, once you’ve gained a following of non-experts, you may come to rely less on gaining the respect of other experts. And this might be a welcome shift in perspective.
How are you sharing your expertise with the world?
When it comes to sharing your expertise, you have a lot of options. I always recommend starting where you are before you consider where you want to go.
So, start by making a list of how you’re sharing your expertise now. Include everything from the presentations you give to industry insiders to the conversations you have with the barista at your local coffee shop. Next, choose one or two of the following options to start expanding your reach.
1. Build Your Personal Brand
Do you have a personal website? Even if you have a relatively secure industry job, creating a personal website can be a great way to share your expertise. It’s easy to build a website with platforms like Squarespace. Also, make sure your LinkedIn profile and other social media profiles reflect your personality.
2. Start Blogging
If you already have a personal website, you can start blogging today. Blogging has come a long way since the 90’s. A blog is a great place to share your expertise. All you have to do is choose a topic, write 500–1,000 words on that topic, and post it to your website with an image. Here’s the template I share with my clients. You can start by sharing once per month and work up to whatever cadence feels good. And if you don’t have your own website, Medium is another place to share your blogs.
3. Post Consistently on Social Media
Social media is the silver bullet when it comes to sharing your expertise with non-experts. If you’re looking to get into the social media game, I suggest starting with LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. At the moment, these platforms are full of people looking for smart content that makes them think. You can post links to your blog articles, short videos talking about your work, and posts that your audience will enjoy.
4. Send an Email Newsletter to Your List
I know. You’re an expert. You may not have time to create a personal brand, write blog articles, or post consistently on social media. Maybe sending an email to a list of your true fans is more your style. This is another great option. You can keep it simple by sending a text-only email once a week or every other week. Give it a clever name and start experimenting!
5. Look for Podcast Guest Spots
Finally, doing podcast guest spots is another easy way to share your expertise with the world. Podcast hosts have their own audiences, so you won’t need to worry about building up your fan base going this route. You will need to do a bit of research to find shows where you are a good fit and it may take some time to make the connections you need with show hosts. But networking works here and once you do a few shows, you’ll start finding your way to other hosts. Start by listening to some podcasts and figuring out what you like. Then make a list of hosts and start reaching out to them.
If your initial response to being called an expert is “oh, I’m not an expert,” maybe it’s time to reconsider that response. Or maybe it’s time for all of us to appreciate the messiness of expertise and share our ideas with the world anyway.
I’m working on a brand new offer designed to support experts in sharing their expertise with the world. Let me take all of your content creation off your plate. If you want to know more about this new offer, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s chat!
Emily Crookston is the Owner and Decider of All Things at The Pocket PhD. She’s the ghostwriter for rebels, renegades, and mavericks. She loves helping experts who are long on ideas, but short on time write business books.