How dare you call me that! How to become an expert without calling yourself one by @KiaJarmon

portrait of a young woman smiling

by Kia Jarmon | Featured Contributor

In my line of work I encounter a lot of people who want to become an expert or be respected and viewed as such.  While I think we can cue the applaud sound bed because they got the first step in branding (tooting your own horn) I have a tiny–well, actually MASSIVE—issue with the word itself.

A colleague once gave me a pretty convincing analogy about the word ‘expert’.  Consider this; if you are the only one in your office who knows how to cut on the computer are you then a computer expert?  Wouldn’t it be true that even with the smallest amount of training and effort someone else could have the same skill?

As a culture we have created this invisible, often misused line of demarcation of expert and then everyone else.  When instead in the days of Facebook Academy and Youtube University do any of us really have access to any less information that someone else? Yes, yes I believe there are experts—I’ve even been called one–who have highly specialized skills that don’t compete with most but here is the secret…true experts don’t need to call themselves one.

So you want to be the coveted expert? Here are my tips for being an expert without calling yourself one.

1. Understand the brand of YOU! Have you outlined your keywords or what I like to also call your core competencies?  These are brand attributes that will connect you, and what you are known for, with any business you affiliate with. My words are communicator, connector, influencer, socially responsible, and storyteller.  These words are what you will be known for and should ring true of who you are at the core.

2. Talk before others do. So a common question is “How do I let others know how valuable I am?”  Consider this: narrow your focus and content based on your keywords, then create blogs and other messages that would show how well you know the subject matter, and then share it with the world through social networks, email signatures, and send to specific friends/colleagues who would share the message for you.

3. Share your expertise.  Each place you have presence online should be strategic and also serve as a snapshot of your brand.  Pretend as if the first site someone stumbles upon is the only place they will see you and on average they may spend 1 minute or less.  In that time they should see your bio (with a working title—not CEO but senior strategist), some of your latest work through photos, presentations, or video, and any other unique qualifiers that will keep them engaged.

4. Hire a PR team! It would be great if you hired a PR agency like us but that is not always so important in the beginning.  What this really means is having an entrusted few who become your brand ambassadors and share your brand attributes with others.  These are the folks who introduce you around at the networking event, send beautifully crafted introduction emails to colleagues, and who are an overall champion for your brand. If you are branding yourself as an expert or specialist correctly then you should have a few of these people in your corner.

I could rattle on and on because this is a topic that I love but I would love to hear from you.  What are some things that have worked for you as you are building your business and brand—besides calling yourself an expert?


Kia+Jarmon-019Kia Jarmon is a Public Relations & Brand Strategist with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency ( She speaksblogsmentors, and is soon to be an author. You can find more information at her personal brand site,

Share :


4 Replies to “How dare you call me that! How to become an expert without calling yourself one by @KiaJarmon”

  1. Adrienne

    Hi Kia and Melissa,

    I wanted to stop by and comment on this post after seeing it over at Mys’s blog.

    I hate this word and yes, I’ve been called one many times myself. I don’t know, to me who can ever be an expert in anything because things are always changing. And just like you said, anyone can learn this stuff too with a little time and education. Most of it isn’t rocket science.

    I’m thrilled to have the knowledge I do in the areas I do but that title makes me very uncomfortable.

    Loved this post..


  2. Mys Palmer

    Hmmm, I’ve got mixed emotions about this one. Factually, an expert is defined as:having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

    So, yes, you can be an expert in YOUR field without having to be trained in another. I also don’t think merely a BA, MBA or PHD qualifies someone as an expert. If you aren’t in the trenches and active in your field you simple have a degree.

    Businesses are built by experience. Education is an experience. For most industries it’s a education can be a required foundation. Both are important.

    Experts today are positioned that way. Through experience they increase their knowledge base and can become experts in other stuff too/

    Also true, experts don’t throw the word around. They’re concerned about being their best selves and adding value. The title is perceived.

  3. Marquita Herald

    Excellent topic. I’ve been blogging for nearly 3 years now and I confess I’ve grown skeptical of anyone representing themselves as an “expert” or the more offensive term “guru.” Ironic of course since I’m a “specialist” in personal growth. I use the term, I am confident about my skills and expertise, and yet there are still days I feel like someone is going to discover I have no clue what I’m doing. Hum – maybe I need a shrink instead of a PR team?!

    1. Melissa Stewart

      I’m with you Marquita! I hate the term “guru” but love your choice of “specialist”. A little self doubt is normal so I think the PR team will do just fine 🙂

Join the conversation