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How to Take Your Place on the Expert Stage

Experts are everywhere. You see them debating on cable news shows, writing columns for magazines and giving advice (whether requested or not) to everyone from flight attendants to Fortune 500 executives. With society increasingly seeking out experts for advice, it’s no wonder that becoming an expert is now an actual career path. I know firsthand. I live it.

Some days it’s exciting to be seen as an expert. This week I was featured in several media outlets, I hit 2 million air miles on one carrier and I worked with some of the smartest business leaders on the planet. Now it’s not all first-class airfare and five-star hotels, but when it’s good, it’s really good. (After all, who doesn’t love people paying them to see the world?) I want you to have the full expert experience. That’s what I’m going to give you in this third and final column on How to Become a Sought-After Expert.

First, let’s recap the steps we’ve covered in the previous two columns.

Step 1: Rock the boat to get results. This means you take a position on a problem, challenge or hot topic that separates you from other experts or generally accepted thinking. This is where you dig in and plant your expert flag. For me, becoming “The Gen Y Guy” was personal. I felt other “experts” were giving my generation a bad rap. Once you’ve staked out your expert position, apply to serve on advisory boards where you can help others in line with your expertise. You won’t get paid to be on these boards, but the connections and experience are priceless.

Step 2: Capture your inner expert. Now that you’ve got a position, the masses need to know about it! The easiest way to spread the word is to create your own YouTube channel and start filming. No fancy lighting or Harlem Shake dancing necessary. You and a camera phone are all you need. Once your videos are online, write guest blogs and engage in debates via social media that drive people to you and your expertise.

And now it’s time to reach the pinnacle of proving you’re an expert: being recognized as one by other experts. You make this happen by applying to speak or be a panelist at events where experts show off their know-how, such as TEDx or South By Southwest Interactive.

The beauty of these types of events is anyone can submit to present, and the audience is filled by experts (and those who think they are). These events are your secret entry point into the expert world. Just keep applying until they accept your presentation. Trust me, they will. Back when I started, I would submit six different presentation ideas to a single event in hopes of one idea getting selected. The first year, only one idea got picked. The second year, all six got picked. The third year, I was the keynote speaker, and in my introduction, I was referred to as THE expert!

It’s time for you to hit the red carpet and take your place on the expert stage.

Go look online right now for expert-driven events in your area. These could be conferences, conventions or summits. Keep submitting presentations until they accept you. Then show up ready to share and learn. You’ll instantly expand your expertise, meet fascinating people and eventually get the most unexpected benefit of all: a paycheck. You’ll also get a fancy nametag with a green ribbon that reads, in shiny gold letters, PRESENTER. Boom. You’re an expert!

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