How to become the go-to expert for go-to experts

How do you become a go-to expert while still getting some work done?

Experts

Who do experts turn to? Image by Mai Le | Flickr

For individuals and organizations alike, having a wealth of knowledge sure helps if you want to be an expert for other experts to turn to.

However if you really know your stuff you may end up filling your days answering very similar questions – without getting to the bottom of a topic that has your genuine interest more than once every few months.

Add structure to your knowledge-sharing

There are a couple of ways to enhance your expert status in a more structured way:

  1. Organize networking and knowledge-sharing events. David Gurteen’s Knowledge Cafes come to mind – as part of a community.
  2. Provide training to experts
  3. Share your expertise online starting, if you’ve been answering questions for quite some time, with a couple of FAQs. There is no end of experts blogging themselves silly 🙂
  4. However, mind the amount of time you want to invest. You might want to get someone to interview you instead.

The advantage of documenting your knowledge in some form is that you can share it while you’re doing something else with your time. Like run a business based on your expertise. Or perhaps you could use your time listening to other people. Expertise should not be allowed to rest on its laurels.

Ultimate content: being the go-to expert for go-to experts

The ultimate expert is the one the experts turn to – the one who provides content they’ll happily recommend to anyone who will listen, because they really can’t add much to your overview. If this is your aim it means you need to get all of your facts right.

Mistakes ruin your reputation as an expert (need I even say it?)

Mistakes, even if you copy-pasted them from another website to save time, render your content useless and could turn your visitors away for good – because you lose trust when you mix facts with fiction. This is something I realized years ago: if you’re wrong about one fact, then it doesn’t matter if you’re right about all the other facts. (I also learned that people who can’t work with absolute accuracy should not be allowed to go near a database).

People can’t refer to your content as the ultimate source on the topic if you leave in a single mistake. Get your facts straight.

So review every detail with care. Content from obscure sources should be checked against not just your own knowledge but also against, say, your biggest competitor’s opinion or even several other websites. If they contradict one another, apply your own expertise, do more research, call in another expert, or leave that particular ‘fact’ alone.

What else would you recomment doing?

Quality content creation: for experts only?

After my earlier posts about content curation as a way to show the world (or the bit you’d be interested in having as a client) you’re an expert in, well, in your field of expertise, there’s the other side of things. Writing about stuff you don’t know anything about. How do you do that anyway? What’s more, how do you come up with content people will come back to again and again?

Cats in their favorite spot

Cats in their favorite spot [image by Tina Lawson – Flickr]

Content creation for non-experts

This article by Jason Acidre gives a few useful tips for non-expert content creators. Using FAQs and the like to make huge lists of ‘everything there is to know about X’ is one way to create great content even if you don’t know that much about a topic.

In fact, you could do more than use frequently asked questions from every competitor you can think of just to assemble a list.

What else can you use existing FAQs for?

You could use FAQs as questions in an interview and try to get a bit more information out of an expert than you might get from an online FAQ handily provided by your competitors. The great thing is you’re answering real questions from clients rather than making stuff up and hoping it’ll help someone out there in the big, big universe… well, you get my point.

  • There is much to be said for using information that’s already out there.
  • On the other hand, there is also value in providing the kind of content that’s not all over the web.

If you can’t provide unique content, then presenting highly useful information in a way that suits the needs of your audience should still give some of them a reason to store your article in their Favorites.

Adding value by transforming content

The way to add value to already useful information is probably in making that information ‘actionable’ – fit for immediate use. This rules out theoretical essays and models:

  • Your content should be almost a copy/paste kind of thing, or
  • It should be an overview so complete that no visitor to your website will need to look anywhere else ever again.
  • It should have extras not usually found in similar overviews. If your competitors are not in the habit of adding relevant links to their examples, you should. If other websites lack visual content to guide visitors through, that’s another extra you could add if you’re a visual content pro.

Favorite content

Lists and tables containing information people need repeatedly are often marked for later (re)reading. If you want to create other people’s favorite content it should be:

  1. Content provided by a known expert (organization)
  2. Content that has proved to be correct and complete.
  3. Content that is well-structured (‘at a glance’).

How do you know if people have favorited a specific piece of content?

Depending on the topic, users of your content will visit your page every month or every week – maybe even every day, where other pages tend to get far fewer views apart from a peak whenever you draw attention to them. Your stats will end up showing a wavy line going up and down and – importantly – up again after every down for quite some time.

If you notice this type of pattern in the stats for a page with a sell-by date, you’ll need to follow up with a new piece of content. Link to your new content from your old page and vice versa.

If you get your facts straight your article could become a regular landing page for a number of your website’s visitors. Where would you like them to go from there?