The first step in positioning yourself as an expert is internal. Before you share your expertise with the world, you have to do the work to really discover what it is you are so passionate about that it must be shared.

This is no easy task. In our interconnected world, stepping out and sharing who you really are can be a scary thing. Now, I’m not talking about weird, creepy self-revelation a la Aaron Carter and Hilary Duff. What I am talking about is really, authentically stepping out and declaring who you are in the context of your personal brand.

An example that comes to mind is Gary Vaynerchuk. With his in-your-face style and over-the-top personality, he challenged the “wine snob” stereotype. Does everyone like him? Certainly not. But does he care? Not for a minute. He challenged the status quo and made wine and wine tasting accessible to a wider audience. He has been named as one of the world’s most influential wine experts by the wine establishment.

Here are three key lessons to learn from Vaynerchuk’s quick journey from obscurity to celebrity:
1) He is very passionate about what he does. Fired by a mission to make wine and wine tasting accessible to consumers outside of the traditional wine world, he has created an unmistakable personal brand.

2) Vaynerchuk came from outside the wine world. He never attended a training institute or apprenticed at a fine restaurant (the typical career path for wine experts). Instead of “paying his dues” in a conventional way, he invited his fans to follow along in his journey of discovery.

3) Even though he comes from an unconventional background and lacks “credentials” in his industry, guests on his show include internationally respected credential holders. Instead of being ashamed of what he lacks, he boldly approaches luminaries. He learns from them, and they are learning from him.

Passion is contagious. When we are passionate about what we do, and it is a reflection of who we are, then everything else fades in relevance.

Gary Vaynerchuk is not the most knowledgeable wine expert, but he is probably the one that most Americans can call by name. He is a person who has a passion for wine and thrives on sharing that passion.

Right now, sitting at your desk, you probably havea higher level of expertise at whatever you do than Gary Vaynerchuk did when he launched himself, full force, into the world of wine appreciation. All that’s lacking is that spark of passion that gets you out of your comfort zone to share your amazing expertise with everyone who can benefit.
It comes down to making a decision to step boldly into the spotlight and share who you are really are.

About Your Columnist

Kimberly Schramm is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog for Connected Women of Influence, where she covers how to position yourself as an expert authority in business. Kimberly is the owner of Like a Boomerang and is a Certified Inbound Marketer who helps her clients develop and implement strategies to target prospects and deliver their messages in a variety of media, online and offline.

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