If you are like so many women entrepreneurs, you have a love–hate relationship with your expert status.
While you KNOW it’s important to articulate a powerful point of view and share your expertise, the idea of holding yourself up as an expert feels unnecessarily awkward, uncomfortable and braggy.
This is tricky territory for women entrepreneurs. Claiming your space as an expert in your field is absolutely critical if you want to elevate yourself into a Category of One and take your business to the next level.
In this episode of Power Play, I lay out a step-by-step process that will help you fully (and effectively) embrace your expert status in a way that feels fully authentic to YOU.
What is YOUR expertise?
If you are like so many women entrepreneurs, you have a love hate relationship with your expert status.
That creates this uncomfortable feeling where you know that it’s important to be able to articulate a point of view, to be able to share your expertise, but the idea of holding yourself up as an expert may feel awkward or uncomfortable or unnecessarily braggy.
So I recently encountered this. I was having a conversation with one of my high end clients inside my high-end mentoring group, called The Incubator.
So this is a woman who is a national preeminent expert in her field. She works in the area of health services. I’m not going to give away what she does but the story still stands.
So after decades really of honing her craft and her expertise, she has an incredible business that makes a difference in the lives of the people that she works with. She ultimately was having problems with her messaging, problems reaching out to her target market, and problems building the credibility that she needed, because she was uncomfortable holding herself up as an expert even though she was.
Now, I’m sharing this story with you because I know from the work that I’ve done mentoring women entrepreneurs, that this can be tricky territory for so many of you. And I can absolutely relate to that. I am comfortable with the work that I’ve done, I take the work that I do incredibly seriously, but I don’t necessarily want to continuously hold myself up as a preeminent expert in my space. It just feels a little bit uncomfortable. If that’s you, I want to share an alternative that can basically enable you to position yourself effectively, to show and share your expertise in a way that feels authentic and comfortable and natural to you.
So, the first thing I want to do is pinpoint on that feeling of discomfort when you begin to hold yourself up as an expert. Now, I don’t do as much work with men entrepreneurs as I do with women, but I can tell you that almost every woman entrepreneur that I’ve worked with starts to feel uncomfortable or like she’s bragging when we start to talk about and position her expertise. It’s something that comes up again and again and again.
And so I want to make it clear to you why this comes up. So obviously as individuals we have our different reasons for feeling uncomfortable about really holding ourselves up as experts, but particularly when it comes to women entrepreneurs, there’s a lot of gender research at play here that shows us some of the factors, some of the social conditioning that can make it uncomfortable for us to hold ourselves up as experts.
So the first is that, according to gender research, women will often look to minimize status differences whereas men may be more likely to maximize status differences. So you can see, when you hold yourself up as an expert, what are you doing? You are maximizing a status difference. You are holding yourself in that moment above other people. So you can see why that might make it uncomfortable for you to claim that expert status.
The second thing is that when we stand out as women, when we take a stand, we’re really rocking the boat. And again, when you look back at prehistoric human societies, women were very much dependent on cohabiting peacefully and in harmony with other people. We were absolutely dependent on those relationships, which meant that for us to stand out, rock the boat, hold ourselves above you know other people as an expert in our area, that was actually something that posed actually kind of mortal dangers for us and our families.
So there’s a lot of psychology at play here and social conditioning that has particular relevance for you as a woman entrepreneur in terms of you holding yourself up as an expert. That said if you are in a service based business, it’s critical that you establish your expertise so that your high end clients understand the value of what you’re bringing and the insight that you have cultivated over time.
So the question remains, how do you do that in a really comfortable, authentic way consistently so that you can predictably attract a steady flow of high end clients into your business?
Let’s get into how to do that.
The first thing we need to focus on is how you position yourself in the conversation. So, if you’re uncomfortable positioning yourself as the preeminent expert, think about instead positioning yourself as a knowledgeable contributor to the conversation. That’s one way, one position, that I find many of my women entrepreneur clients are comfortable taking because they’re able to contribute, they’re establishing themselves as knowledgeable, but they’re not necessarily holding themselves up as the beginning and definitive voice on the topic.
If you feel good doing that, awesome fill your boots. Go for it. But if you’re struggling with that, think about positioning yourself as a knowledgeable and helpful contributor on the topic.
The second thing that you want to focus on is how you are positioning your message.
In order to truly position your message effectively, to attract those high end clients, to establish your expertise, you need to stop communicating in topics and start expressing a point of view or an opinion. This part is critical.
Stop communicating about topics, which are very broad and nebulous and hard to follow and hard to sort of grab on to, start focusing on communicating about a position, a point of view, an opinion.
So for instance, the topic of this video is establishing yourself as an expert. I could make a boring video about establishing yourself as an expert or I could take a position, which is what I’ve done, which is that women entrepreneurs have a love-hate relationship with their expert status. You can see there’s a difference there in terms of how I’m communicating, but by taking a position I naturally establish myself as a more authoritative voice in my field without having to have that sort of icky feeling that I’m holding myself up as the be all and end all.
I hope you found this video useful. If you did, please feel free to share it with someone who you think would benefit and I’ll see you next time.