• Alexander Lewis

21 Tactics to Position Yourself as a Subject-Matter Expert [SME]

Updated: Aug 6

You’ve done the deep work to understand and master your chosen niche. Now it’s time to showcase your expertise so others can call upon your knowledge and skills when it matters most.

Becoming a go-to expert in any field requires strategic brand positioning. There are certain characteristics we all expect from subject-matter experts (SMEs). If you want to position yourself as an authority in your field, you must publish ideas, share resources, and make it look like the whole world is talking about you or your services.

Even if you have the best knowledge in the world, if you don’t market yourself, no one is going to notice.

Becoming an SME is about getting yourself noticed.

When it comes to authoritative positioning, each new media hit, published article, or speaking engagement makes it easier to get the next. Subject authority snowballs as more people recognize your brand.

This requires a lot of initial investment. Put in the effort upfront so that things get simpler and simpler for the future.

Here are 21 tactics to help you generate good publicity for your personal brand:

1. Subscribe to HARO or Muck Rack

There are several websites that specialize in connecting subject-matter experts with journalists looking for expert opinions. These services tend to cost money — but with the right pitch, you can get your name published in some of the top trade and consumer publications in the world.

Click here to check out HARO or Muck Rack.

2. Begin writing for publications in your industry

Getting quoted in articles is one thing. Authoring the article is even better. If you’re an adept communicator, many trade magazines and blogs may be interested to hear your opinion or story.

Case in point: Leon Brown is a developer and the founder of Nextpoint. He used his personal story to get featured in one of the top publications in the world. He says, “Be genuine and make sure to communicate your story. People like to hear the story behind the person. This worked well for me when it was picked up by the Guardian for one of their features.”

The key is formulating the right pitch, which we’ll discuss in point 17.

3. Show-off media exposure on your website

“As Featured In” pages or website sections are incredibly common among startups and personal brands. Showing your website visitors that major news outlets and publications have talked about, quoted, or published your name or brand in some way communicates a sense of authority.

It’s not easy to get featured in top tier media. When it happens, tell your customers! As a bonus, this communicates to other major media stations that you’re someone they can trust for a good interview or quote.

4. Follow the right personalities and hashtags on Twitter

Twitter has been one of my best tools for media exposure. First, follow as many journalists and bloggers writing about your field as you can. This is about being in the right place at the right time.

By following Hubspot bloggers, I was able to immediately respond when one writer asked for quotes from full-time freelancers for Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide to Freelancing.

You should also pay attention to two specific hashtags: #JournoRequest and #PrRequest. These are hashtags typically used by journalists looking for SMEs to quote in an article.

5. Hire a ghostwriter

Publishing your ideas in a blog, book, or magazine can be a powerful means to building authority in your subject matter.

But not everyone has the kind of time or skill necessary to see all their ideas published. In that case, you can hire a skilled ghostwriter to take the labor off your hands.

6. Start blogging

Having a regular blogging presence online communicates to your followers and customers that you’re on top of the latest ideas in your field. A blog is a body of work attributed to your brand — in a place where the whole internet can see what you’re all about.

In addition, blogging can improve your SEO, making it easier for people interested in your ideas to find you.

From a publicity standpoint, helpful articles are easily shared or linked back to by other bloggers and sometimes journalists. You never know who may find your material helpful and worth spreading.

7. Find speaking engagements

This doesn’t have to be as hard as it initially sounds. Getting booked to speak at events is one of those ventures that is best started small. Use websites like Eventbrite to find out about free workshops or conferences happening in your city. Attend a few.

As you connect with others and they learn about your expertise, just be straightforward about the fact that you’d love to lead a workshop to teach people about what you do. It won’t take long for event organizers to consider you as a contributor or panelist for their next event.

I also recommend contacting local colleges. Mention that you have certain expertise and would love to lead a free workshop for students to learn about your career.

PR expert Lisa Simone Richards says, “Making a few bucks to talk for an hour is not the M.O. The actual purpose, point, and pleasure in public speaking is having an opportunity to connect with your target client.

8. Write a book in your subject matter

When it comes to measuring one’s clout, being introduced with “they wrote the book on the subject” is basically impossible to top. Books are challenging to write. They require research and a lot of industry knowledge. Writing a book in your field communicates that you have deep knowledge about that given subject.

Not to mention, getting published by a traditional publisher shows that other professionals believe you’re the one to speak on your topic.

As a bonus, successful books can become a good passive income stream, especially if you choose to do a lot of public speaking.

9. Begin posting on social media

This goes hand in hand with the benefits of Twitter and blogging combined, especially if you’re using LinkedIn and connecting with other professionals instead of just friends and family. As you begin to put your work out there, you never know who may share your ideas or quote you in their own work.

10. Think critically about your professional title

I have been a full-time freelance copywriter for almost three years. Even in that short amount of time, I’ve changed my title countless times on my resume, gmail signature, Twitter bio, and LinkedIn headline.

The more I learn about my customers, the more I like to tweak how I talk about what I do. Consider looking at others in your field who share a similar role to you. What title do they go by? It’s good to know what your colleagues and competitors use.

11. Ask and answer industry questions online

An SME should be engaged with the pressing questions in their field. When you post on social media, ask your followers interesting questions.

I also highly recommend answering industry questions on websites like Quora or Reddit. It’s a free way to show up as an SME on a site where people are craving quality information and resources.

12. Be available to friends and colleagues

As Sarabeth and I have grown our copywriting business, a lot of friends and prior coworkers have contacted us with questions. These questions range everywhere from “How do I get started copywriting?” to