3 Steps To Earn Recognition As A Subject Matter Expert

How should you go about gaining visibility as an expert in your field? Here are three relatively simple ways Subject Matter Experts can earn recognition and build your professional brand.

1. Join the leadership board of a local professional association.

If you’re not already a member of any local organization for your industry, it’s easy enough to search online for your options. Most associations allow visitors to attend several meetings before pressing you to sign up for membership. Since it is a time commitment, we definitely suggest shopping around for the group that will offer you the most valuable network connections for your time and effort.

What to look for in a professional association? You want a group that:

  • Offers valuable resources in the form of presentations by thought leaders relevant to your industry and up-to-date market research.
  • Give you the opportunity to network with professionals like-minded professionals.
  • Promotes a sense of community while meeting potential peers or mentors while having some fun!

Once you’ve found a professional association that meets your needs, increase your visibility by volunteering for a position on the board.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to start out in a high-ranking role like President right off the bat. But, the truth is most professionals are too busy to jockey for volunteer positions that eat into their personal time.

In fact, for many board positions within professional associations, all you have to do is ask!

A great way to jumpstart your networking and professional credibility is to sign up for a position that gives you an excuse to meet lots of fellow members, such as being the membership chair.

It’s not glamorous – you’ll need to remind people about their dues and such – but it does give you a legitimate reason to reach out to anyone you want who’s a member of the organization and invite them for coffee. Being a leader of an organization ensures you’re viewed differently by others since you’ve been vetted and chosen by your peers for this position.

And after paying your dues for a year or two, you may indeed work your way up to President, which provides even more visibility and social proof of your expertise.

2. Start a Meetup Group

Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, Dorie Clark profiles Robbie Samuels as an example of how — with the right topic and some elbow grease — you boost your professional brand by organizing a meetup group.

As a nonprofit fundraiser in Boston, Robbie started a free Meetup group for nonprofit professionals and their friends called Socializing for Justice.

The group grew to over 3000 members. As the group’s leader, Robbie was in the position to regularly reach out via email to invite those members to participate in activities or promote topics in-line with the group’s interests.

Because of his efforts, Robbie started to earn name recognition. Members were grateful for the opportunities and connections they’d made through the organization and Robbie, himself, gained enormous exposure.

Bottom line: If existing leadership opportunities aren’t there, you can make your own!

3. Start Blogging Industry-Specific Content

Subject Matter Experts with their eye on the prize of gaining visibility most often want to land a book deal. After all, what better way to claim expertise than have your name printed on a book jacket with sales numbers to back up those claims?

However, getting published isn’t a walk in the park. To build your platform, consider starting with a blog.

There’s plenty of info available on the nitty-gritty of blog writing. However, if you’re looking to gain visibility as a Subject Matter Expert, it’s vital that you pick (and stick with) a niche. Carefully research the questions most often asked by your target audience, plan a content calendar, and get to work. Once you have a significant library of content, you can start gaining recognition as a guest blogger for industry periodicals to grow your audience — and your reputation.

All of these activities are free, and only cost you your time. You don’t need to pay an expensive PR firm to raise your profile. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Instead, if you apply effort in the right places, you can dramatically grow your expert reputation.