But if you know your stuff, you can become a valuable resource in your field anyway.
1. Be honest about what you don’t know.
This is the top, numero uno takeaway, a no-brainer, and something even (especially?) the generously brain-endowed often bury.
If you realize you’ll never stop learning, you’ll stay humble and human, and we readers like that.
2. Talk to and reference the experts.
Even the experts refer to the experts.
There’s always someone out there who knows a bit more about something, or whose mental rays hit it at an angle you couldn’t conceive.
Seek out authorities not just for learning purposes, but to position yourself at a physical or virtual table with a knowledgeable person.
That alone is both respectable and respected.
Share your encounter with us readers. We’ll thank you for introducing us to someone whose knowledge you trust on a topic, and stick around to meet more like them.
3. Tell everyone’s story.
Dig deep to find more than just the widely-held views.
If you have an opinion of your own, go ahead and be biased, but not insulting.
Use pedantic asides only humorously. It’s more interesting this way, and we come away certain you know more than what you told us.
You’ll probably find you’ve knocked up against a treasure trove of writing ideas, too.
4. Ask people to ask you about what you know.
We all have references we love to skip Google to query when something specific’s driving us nuts.
If you have enough confidence to become one of them, just add a box with a link to your e-mail that says, “Ask me about X.”
Just remember to apply the first three points to your answers, as well as any applicable qualifiers and disclaimers.
Oops—did you just get knocked over by a stampede of burning questions?
See if people are willing to pay for certain answers.
5. Learn to write for different readers and venues.
This one is the reason research fellows who can explain to four year-olds why the sky is blue get so many expert points from me.
If your own website is geared toward a technical readership level, try writing a news release for the general public.
Practice makes perfect on this one, but I know I almost always click on Yahoo! News headlines that read, “Largest cave in the world discovered yesterday” with promises of eye candy.
Draw physical and historical comparisons.
Use pictures and humor.
Milk human interest for all it’s worth.
Do this right, and a number of us will read, engage, subscribe, buy… or simply (ultimately?) be inspired.
Plus, your name is now indelibly linked with your favorite topic.
Don’t stop there!
Invite us over for special sessions with you: brief visual presentations, Q&As, and more build and shape your rep.
Failing all that, of course, you can always write a book.