June 23, 2022

How to position yourself as an expert and not a service provider

In order to position yourself as an expert, you need to detach yourself from the mindset of being an order-taker & instead focus your energy on the strategic thinking of your work.

In order to position yourself as an expert, you need to detach yourself from the mindset of being an order-taker & instead focus your energy on the strategic thinking of your work. Service providers are paid for executing the tasks, expert are paid for thinking & solving problems at its core.  The combination of being both the expert and service provider makes you a vital partner for any client who trusts your skills. Focus on solving the client’s problems first before jumping into production.

Getting out of the employee mindset

An employee mindset encourages you to think in terms of tasks and deliverables and timelines, but when you're an expert, your mentality should change. Instead of seeing each project as a finite task set by someone else, your projects should be opportunities to show off your value.

The key to becoming an expert is by thinking of yourself not as a service provider but instead as an expert: someone who has a lot of experience and knowledge about a particular subject matter and who spends their work day helping others to understand it better too. Experts don't just do their jobs—they create something that helps their clients go above and beyond with their own specific set of skills.

Statistics on the recent rise of freelancers. Source: Statista (2021)

So how do we get out of this and position ourselves as experts? Here are some ways:

Change your mindset

The way you position yourself makes all the difference in how clients perceive you and how much they're willing to give you for your services. In order to do this, you have to change your mindset about the service you're providing. Instead of thinking about providing labor, think about offering a solution or an outcome—something that will provide the client with value-added benefits. Think about the problem that you solve for them and why they should work with you instead of someone else. Some solutions you’ve implemented before might be really useful for your current client, that’s valuable knowledge.

This is a big shift to make, but you can start by looking at it as an opportunity to improve your business strategy. As you become more focused on delivering value and helping people solve their problems and achieve their goals, you'll naturally establish yourself as an expert with a valuable perspective on what works and what doesn't. By focusing on offering solutions instead of selling products or services, you'll find that clients will be more than happy to pay for what they need from you.

Identify your niche

You need to know what you do better than anyone else out there, and how you provide value to your customers in an exceptional way. Once you have that down, think about why or how they would come to you rather than going somewhere else. Again, this doesn't mean you should start telling potential clients that no one else compares; instead, show them why they should give your services a try. As mentioned above, your unique set of skills can help people that have a specific problem with the solution you provide.

If you run a freelance business, it's essential to understand the value of your expertise. You're not just providing a service, you're offering up your knowledge and experience in an area that no one else has. For example, if you help restaurant owners with digital marketing, you aren't just a guy that helps them set up Facebook and Twitter accounts. You're the guy they can call when they realize they need to start looking at Yelp reviews. You're the guy they can call when they want to know what their best options are for advertising on Google. Because when you're an expert in your field, you don't just have the knowledge of what works, you have a wealth of information on why something works and the skillset that is highly applicable to their situation.

Provide value to your audience

When people see that you have a passion for something and they feel like they could trust your opinion, they will naturally come to you in order to get information or advice on that topic. To position yourself as an expert within your niche, focus on how you can help others first through the power of listening. Focus on creating valuable content that contributes value to your audience, rather than focusing solely on how it will benefit your business or product. Providing value through content is different from creating content that advertises your product or service; although the latter will still garner attention, it won't encourage sustainable growth because there's no incentive for the reader to come back for more.

What makes you different from all of those other writers who are also trying to provide their audience with the same information? Why should anyone read your material instead of them? Think about what you can share that's going to be helpful and interesting to your readers, and how you can use this information to drive relevant traffic back to your site.

Constant learning

A huge part of providing value is doing research in order to be able to speak about any topic with authority. You can't know what you don't know, so it's incredibly important that you are constantly educating yourself on new topics that could help you bring more value to the table.

Think of it this way: if your subject matter can continue to grow without end, then that means you can also continue to grow as an expert without end. So although you may have been doing it for years, don't be afraid to say that you're still learning about it whenever someone asks about your experience.

Connect with thought leaders in your field

Thought leaders are those people whose names or brands you recognize—they have built themselves into a recognizable brand name that signifies their expertise in the field they operate in. These are the people who have written the books on their subject matter and are quoted by media outlets for their insight on a particular topic. These people are very hard to get connected with, but once you do, it opens up doors for opportunities professionally and personally.

In this era of social media, expert leaders are creating videos, resources, and courses that can help you learn more by simply following them. This is a new way to connect with thought leaders from anywhere around the world.

So how do you start building the rapport needed to become an expert? When you first reach out to some big names in your industry, you're really no different than any other stranger reaching out for help or advice. But if you approach them not as a stranger, but as a friend, you'll quickly break down barriers and begin to make meaningful connections. Engage with their posts, ask them questions, and spark a meaningful conversation when you get the chance.

More than accomplishing, initiate

If you want to set yourself apart from the competition, don't just accomplish tasks. Instead, initiate and propose. A task can be assigned to anyone who has the knowledge to complete it, but initiating is a skill that only the most advanced professionals have at their disposal. Rather than waiting for possible clients to come to them, these people are out there hunting for new business opportunities. They know that if they don't bring forth a proposal, no one else will.

The process of initiating also ensures you're coming up with something that truly fits the client's needs. Present yourself as an expert in your field who is helping people achieve their goals and find out what prevents them from doing so in the first place.

By carefully positioning yourself as an expert, it won't be long before you start to see a dramatic change in how you're perceived. The new role you take on with customers and clients is a natural extension of your expertise and your service-oriented approach. When you take the time to communicate your value, clients will be more apt to partner with you. Instead of taking orders, they'll welcome your empathy and insight. And when that happens, both parties win.