It’s easier to attract more clients and referrals you have unique niche – something special to offer. Specialization makes it easier to create that unique value proposition. Does your firm have a specialist? Is there someone that everyone in the firm known for handling specific issues, strategies, or types of clients?
A specialist may have a designation or certification. They know the details. They have experience handling a particular scenario or problem and they do it regularly. People who understand the issue or scenario go to that person. When they talk with a client or prospect about that specialty they can communicate with detail and nuance.
But experts get more referrals than specialists.
Experts are recognized by people who do not understand the issue or scenario. They have a reputation that goes outside their own circle. They are the thought leaders. Even specialists turned to experts for guidance. There is more weight behind their opinions. What sets experts apart? And what should you do if you aspire to expert status?
Be specific – Experts know what they know and they know the boundaries of what they know. They can engage, even argue, with related professionals partly because they have a deep understanding of their specialty but also because they appreciate the role and knowledge of the other professional.
Demonstrate leadership – Experts are active in professional associations. The lead committees or boards. They help develop or promote standards.
Teach – Educating students in the field deepens expertise. Teaching experienced practitioners hones skills and demands being current. Instructing related professionals on shared issues (teaching accountants about 1031 exchanges or eldercare attorneys about long-term care insurance, for example) extends reputation.
Appear in the press – Experts get quoted. Develop relationships with journalists. Be a reliable source of quality information about your topic.
Publish – When describing an expert, a common expression is “he wrote the book on it.” Post to a blog. Contribute to periodicals. Write the book.
Advance thought – Experts don’t just use ideas adroitly, they develop new ones. Extend the thinking within the specialty. Do something original.