Recently my daughter needed a belt changed on her car. In the interest of budget, she chose to take the vehicle to a friend who used to be an office manager at an auto mechanic shop. This young lady is not even a mechanic, but Kim insisted that she was well-versed in minor repairs and could effectively perform the work. "You need an expert!" I exclaimed. "Please don't put your life in the hands of a hobbyist!"

The question is - how do I know that the kid at a local auto shop is any more qualified? I don't. But the signs and branding around the shop say he is, and so it must be. There's a general assumption that anyone there who is working on a vehicle is a seasoned mechanic because of the professional environment and the "expert" image that it portrays.

That's the magic of image and branding. And yes, even home-based business owners can create a great image for themselves. The good news is that you don't have to know it all to be viewed as an expert. Think about the workshops and speaking events you've been to where material was presented in a professional, compelling manner. A good presenter will be seen as an expert, yet she most likely offers only a few presentation topics and knows those topics well.

So what can you do to boost your expert status? Ask yourself these questions:

- What are the 2 or 3 most common questions you hear when you're telling someone new about your industry or business?
- What do people want to know more about?
- What do your clients struggle with the most?
- What is unique about your industry?
- What is unique about YOU in your industry?

Now, what unique spin could you put on any of those topics? What can you pinpoint to narrow the topic down so the information is different from what many others are offering?

For instance, if you're a graphic designer, you could speak or write about how graphics enhance a website and other marketing materials. But if you were to address "the secret key to branding," including information about color, shapes, page layout, and the impact of certain elements on the human mind, you not only appear talented but also like someone who has a unique secret. If I met you I would be inclined to believe that your secret key to success could take my website and other branding materials to new levels! Now you have a unique spin that helps you to stand out from other designers.

Once you have identified your unique offerings, invest some time in writing articles, creating new content for your website, achieving a presence in social media, and perhaps taking on some speaking engagements and/or workshops if appropriate. Focus on these topics at your leads meetings and on social media sites. Step into the role of the expert. As you embrace the idea, so will others.

On another note, I'm happy to say that my daughter's car is functioning beautifully, but Mom is hoping for an expert opinion on any future mechanical failures!