This week’s question comes from a coaching student who wishes to remain anonymous: How can I establish credibility and expertise as a new coach and entrepreneur, so that I can both attract clients and also charge lucrative fees for my services?

Answer: As a facilitator of professional coach training and leader of many mastermind groups and workshops, I often hear my clients and students express doubt and feelings of inadequacy around their credibility as new entrepreneurs and professional coaches. The term “expert” is one that can be perceived as rather ambiguous, as it has been used in various contexts, from advertising to athletics to professionals, as well as others.

Being an expert in your field makes you the go-to person for your industry. By definition, an expert is “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of, or skill, in a particular area. Interestingly, there is no time-frame associated with the definition, and there is not a special person with the designation or authority to don anyone else as an “official expert”.

In what seems like a previous lifetime, when I was a novice social worker, I was called to testify as an expert witness in court on numerous occasions. At the time, I did not feel like an expert. After all, I had only been practicing for a matter of months in my chosen profession. However, I had been studying my chosen profession for the two years prior, I had been receiving field training and mentoring, I had been working full-time as a social worker, and I had been reading books and participating in continuing education in my field. In addition to the aforementioned, my awareness was heightened to any and all information from peripheral sources, i.e. newspaper articles, press coverage, political developments, community events, etc. I was definitely immersed in the knowledge required to establish expertise, and it had nothing to do with time.

So what does it take to become an expert?

Three Ways to Establish Yourself as an Expert

1. Begin your journey to expertise through research/information gathering, such as reading articles, blogs, and books on the subject. Be discerning that the information that you gather is from credible sources. In other words, keep your finger on the pulse of your area of interest, and stay on top of any new developments on the topic.

2. Connect with others and immerse yourself in your area of interest. Find any related professional groups or associations, begin to network, attend training/webinars/workshops, hire a coach or mentor, . I will posture myself by blogging, writing articles, and providing brief workshops and talks within my niche market.

3. One of the quickest ways to learn and become an expert is to offer your knowledge to others. Begin to utilize your expertise by creating resources such as articles, speeches, a book, course, or workshop, for example. As you learn and expand, you will also be able to expand your offerings and boost your expertise!