Building Expertise

Selling Your Ideas, Your Vision, Even Yourself

By Barry Maher

Obviously, the greater your credibility, the more effective you’ll be when it comes to selling your ideas or your vision. If someone doesn’t respect you, they aren’t going to respect any argument you present to make your case. Which means you better respect yourself as well.

That doesn’t mean arrogance, it means self-assurance. If you’ve got pertinent experience and/or expertise and the people you’re dealing with aren’t familiar with it, you might recap it in a non-bragging, non-threatening way. Even if they are familiar with your expertise, a diplomatic reminder never hurts.

Tactic: Continually strive to build and increase your credibility. The more credibility you have, the more impact every one of your ideas and proposals will have—automatically. Look for ways to build up your expertise both in general and on specific important topics.

Read every industry publication you can get your hands on. You’ll be amazed at how much better informed you’ll be than your peers, even your bosses. You might even cut out and forward clippings or website links to selected individuals with a tactful, “Just in case you missed this” note.

In one large corporation, the credit manager at one branch is so strong in his field that no one in the entire company will challenge anything he has to say about credit procedures. He’s also generous with that expertise so he’s become an indispensable resource: more than a resource really, a standard.

If Larry says it’s so, it is so—throughout the company.

Larry’s a nice guy. But he’s a nice guy who usually gets what he wants when credit issues are involved, simply because no one can contest him.

Tactic: If you’re recognized as an authority, sometimes you can even control the criteria on which a decision is going to be based.

Anne O’Halloran advocated a system for new product development that would get products to market faster than the system the vice president of sales wanted, though it also cost significantly more. Unfortunately for the sales department, Anne’s expertise in development and implementation helped convince the powers-that-be that in this area speed was far more important than cost.

You already have experience and you already have expertise: about yourself, your vision and probably about whatever it is you might be proposing. There are any number of ways of increasing the weight of your expertise.

Like Larry, you can become an in-house resource. You can gain influence within a professional organization. You can write articles. You can talk with newspaper, magazine, newsletter, blog and website writers and set yourself up as a source for stories related to your area of expertise. This works particularly well after you’ve had an article or two published to heighten your credibility. You can address local, regional or even national groups on issues important to your industry.

The more of an expert you become, the more ways there are to demonstrate your expertise.

You may need to be careful about this type of self-promotion. If you’re working for yourself, it can be an effective, low-cost way to gain a great deal of visibility. In the corporate world, some companies will love it. They’ll write you up in their house organ and make you a local star. Others, however, may be wary of a voice coming from inside the company they don’t control. And if they see you as a loose cannon, they’ll start looking for ways to tie you down.

© Copyright 2013, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada


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