5 Ways To Bolster Your Personal Engineering Brand By Becoming A “Visible Expert”

Have you ever heard the phrase “visible expert”? If you’re shaking your head from side to side, then I’m right there with you.

Experts Sign

CC Image courtesy of Mai Le on Flickr

I just learned of this term the other day while reading a past issue of the NSPE (National Society of Professional Engineers) magazine. It contained a fascinating article titled, Cultivating Visible Experts, written by Sylvia Montgomery, a senior partner with the marketing and branding firm, Hinge.

Research-Based Advice For All of Us

Although Montgomery’s firm, and the article, are focused on helping services firms increase their business by growing “visible experts” amongst their employees, virtually all the points she made are also relevant for students, and for full-time engineers in all types of organizations.

Something I particularly liked about her article is that it’s based on extensive research her firm completed through surveys of services buyers and through interviews of roughly 130 visible experts.

Build Expertise…Share It…Enjoy The Fruits of Visibiliy

At the end of the day, her message really comes down to the idea of building expertise and sharing it, in a variety of ways that will elevate our perceived value in the marketplace.

For students, the marketplace of greatest interest would most likely be the companies looking to hire them as interns or as new hires after graduation.

For full-time engineers wanting to advance their careers, their biggest interest would be in the perception of them as seen by their current employer and by the industry at large.

Five Techniques To Increase Your Visibility

With the above ideas in mind, here are five actions you might take to make your personal expertise more visible to the world:

  1. WRITE A BOOK: According to the article, in the field of engineering, writing a book on your area of expertise is a top technique for being seen as an expert. With the ease and low costs of self-publishing today, launching a book is almost a no-brainer.

    Admittedly, my free STRAIGHT TALK GUIDES are simply PDF ebooks, but they’re a good example of how writing about something unique that we know about can be a great way to get started as a writer. For me, the GUIDES are a stepping stone toward a future goal of getting a “real” book published. In the interim, the GUIDES let me take some of what I know and share it with others who can benefit from it.

    If you’re a student, you might question if you have enough experience and knowledge to write a book, but don’t kid yourself. A young local entrepreneur, Hunter Browning, wrote his first book while in high school in 2012, and then went on to launch two successful start-up companies.

  2. DEVELOP A PERSONAL WEBSITE: Within engineering, this was ranked as another top technique for showing others that you’re an expert. A website gives you a lot of latitude about what type of content to produce for your audience. A typical way to start might be to author a weekly blog on a topic you know and care about.

    Today, podcasting is growing exponentially, and is a great way to tap the expertise of others in your field by conducting interviews with them . Of course, you can also embed videos, white papers, articles, and a host of other content on your site too.

  3. SPEAK PROFESSIONALLY: As revealed in the article, “visible experts are the high-profile figures who deliver keynotes at conferences and at the highest levels of visibility come to lead and define their industries.”

    For full-time engineers, there are lots of opportunities at professional association conferences to share your expertise such as leading breakout sessions, participating in panel discussions, or delivering technical papers.

    If you’re a student, you can participate in professional conferences too, but you might choose to start by presenting in your classes, or by speaking at engineering club meetings or in other campus leadership roles.

  4. BE A BLOGGER: Again, as stated in the article, “One of the chief takeaways from the research: In order to build one’s reputation, a rising expert’s knowledge must be available across a variety of platforms, both online and offline. Educational content that highlights your expertise on a personal or company blog is powerful, reaching a wide audience and helping an individual illustrate the exact nature of their expertise.”

    Blogging is a delivery channel that’s open to virtually anyone. Even students can sometimes get a chance to blog on a company blog, such as this young engineer who interned at a prominent local KC engineering firm.

  5. CREATE ONLINE VIDEOS: Videos weren’t mentioned in Montgomery’s article, but they were suggested in the book she co-authored titled, The Visible Expert. As the book stated, “This educational approach is growing in popularity, with technology making it easier and less expensive to produce.”

    Personally, I’ve fully embraced videos as a way to deliver content and to try and connect on a more personal level with my readers/viewers. I’m completely sold on the incredible power and reach of video.

    Video is great for students too. Here’s a wonderful example of how a creative ISU engineering student, Sam Ennis, used his video skills to win an IEEE video contest, and to get written up in an engineering company’s blog. Can you imagine the impact this video would have if a recruiter saw it before interviewing Sam?

Any of these five techniques would be a great starting point towards becoming a visible expert, but they represent only a subset of the possibilities.

Is increased visibility for you and/or your firm a 2015 goal?

I strongly recommend that you start by reading more about Visible Experts on the Hinge Marketing blog HERE.VisibleExpertBookCover

Be sure to also download and read their outstanding FREE ebook, The Visible Expert, from their library HERE. It’s a research-based, detailed roadmap for anyone seeking to become an industry star.

Good luck on your journey. I’ll be here cheering you on and supporting you!




Question: What techniques do you see the visible experts in your school, company or industry using today? You can leave a comment by clicking here. 



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  • Nari Soundarrajan

    This is some excellent piece of advice. Also, the biggest thing you have nt explicitly mentioned here is that old buzzword – networking. #3 in particular describes “the art of networking, without networking!” – as Bruce Lee would say!

    • Nari, Thanks for your comments here. You’re spot on regarding networking.

  • great article Don!

    • Hi Dave, Glad you enjoyed it. I’m curious, what resonated most with you?

      I have to thank the author of the article in the NSPE magazine for sharing her firm’s idea of “The Visible Expert”. As you and I know, it aligns well with Michael Hyatt’s ideas in his book, Platform.

      BTW, be sure to check out the free eBook I linked to at the end of the post. It’s outstanding.

      • I like how you bridged the gap between many of the techniques being used in the internet marketing world and advancing one’s engineering career.