How to build a reputation as an expert

Becoming known for a big idea can turbocharge your career.

by: Anne Fisher

Dear Annie: I’m working on an MBA in finance and, as part of a class project, I came up with a new way of valuing companies for IPOs or acquisitions, using a set of readily available data that bankers and investors don’t usually consider. I’ve tested my model on dozens of companies, both real and hypothetical, and it’s extremely accurate. A friend (and former Wall Street coworker) tells me this approach could make me very marketable in my field, but it isn’t helping my “personal brand” if no one knows about it. My question is, how do you get attention for an idea without just putting it out there where someone else could steal it? — Anonymous So Far

Dear ASF: It’s a classic innovator’s dilemma. “People often worry that a great idea will be stolen,” notes Dorie Clark, who teaches business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua B-school and wrote a new book that might interest you, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It. “But writing and speaking about it protects you from that.”

The most important thing, she explains, is to “start creating as much content as you can, so that the idea becomes identified with you and people recognize it as yours. Imagine the reaction if, for example, someone wrote a book about women’s empowerment in business called Lean In. That title and concept have become so identified with Sheryl Sandburg that no one would take an imitator seriously.”

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