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What Does It Take To Be An Expert?

Posted by on Jun 22, 2013

In some ways I’m like everyone else when it comes to dealing with the concept of the term “expert”. The word has its connotations that make it something to eschew, and at the same time something to aspire to. I’ve hated being called an expert and tried to stay away from it at times. Then I came to grips with the reality that, as an independent consultant in different fields, the best marketing I can think of is to be seen as an expert in those fields where people might actually pay me for what I know and what I can do.

I taught these dogs to fly;
no I didn’t…

I remember reading a book by a guy named Brendon Burchard called Millionaire Messengericon, which I briefly mentioned in a post about two years ago, where his premise is that all of us are experts to someone, and we can turn that expertise into a career if we learn how to do it and have the confidence to do it. That kind of thing makes great sense to me, as in 2 days I’ll be celebrating my 12th year in business for myself. I guess that means I had that part figured out already to some degree.

However, you don’t have to always be making money at something to be considered an expert at it, or at least be trying to be an expert at it. I’ll go out on a limb and say that I might not have a skyrocking ranking when it comes to blogging, and yet I’d like to consider myself an expert at it. I actually gave a presentation on business blogging a year and a half ago that went over really well. Speaking in front of around 60 people or so, who crammed into a little room to hear me talk for about 45 minutes and seemed to enjoy themselves helped give me a bit of a boost that maybe I knew something of which I spoke.

It’s because of quite a few other things that I feel I have the right to call myself an expert on the topic of blogging. I’m expert on a few other things as well, and that’s more the premise of this post. What makes someone an expert, whether they want to call themselves one or not? I have some ideas, and I’m going to relate a lot of it to blogging. Here are 5 things I have for you; let’s see how you feel you stack up to it when I’m done:

1. Some knowledge of what you’re talking about – I like to think I know something about the topic of blogging. As it pertains to this blog, 10% of the articles I’ve written here are on the topic of blogging. Since I’ve written over 1,400 articles here, that’s not so bad.

But that’s not all. I also consider myself an expert on the topic of leadership and management, and to that degree 33% of the articles on my business blog are on that specific topic. Add to that the reality that I wrote a book on leadership and, until the last few months, also wrote a newsletter on the topic, and you could say that I’ve proven myself to be knowledgeable on the subject

2. Longevity – I’ve been writing and talking about leadership for 12 years now. I’ve been a healthcare finance consultant for 12 years now, with just about 30 years in the arena. I’ve been writing about leadership for that same period of time and blogging about it for 8 years, and I’ve been writing about blogging for 6 years now. For that matter I’ve been writing in some form or another for 33 years, which has prompted more than 3,500 articles online and nearly 100 songs and lyrics copyrighted; I hadn’t talked about writing earlier but I don’t necessarily consider myself an expert at that, even with the longevity.

3. Acknowledgement from others – This one is something you can’t really generate on your own (well, you can ask for endorsements on LinkedIn, but that’s not quite the same thing), so it’s nice when you get to be a part of something like this recent article including myself along with 32 others titled 33 Experts Share Their Secrets For Improving Reader Engagement. I’ve been a part of other interviews as well, and have been asked to write all sorts of guest posts and participate in forums here and there on the topic. And of course there’s my weekly Hot Blog Tips Hangouts on YouTube every Sunday, which is growing in popularity. There are many long time readers and bloggers who say a lot of nice things about my blogging ventures. Of course there’s many who have no idea who I am as well, but it’s not always numbers that make you an expert.

4. Willingness to continue learning – After all these years of all the things I’ve done, I continue trying to be better. I read more and I write more (maybe not so much lately but it’s coming back) because everything new I learn gives me a new perspective on things like and already know something about, gives me something new to write about and to help others with, and it all helps make me more of an expert which of course helps me benefit others.

5. Being willing to share – This is the big one. Back in the day there were a lot of people saying “You give too much away; no one has to hire you because you give it all to them already.” That may or may not be true; I really don’t know. I believe that over the years I’ve been willing to share what I think about blogging, writing, social media, and other things that I’m sure some people really couldn’t care much about but others might find somewhat interesting. After all, the name of this blog is I’m Just Sharing after all. πŸ™‚ When you’re willing to give, you open yourself up to receiving as well; that’s what the cycle of life, or the laws of attraction, are really about.

There’s my 5 things; how do you match up to them?

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Hi Mitch, very interesting piece. I was part of the 33 experts piece and it blew my mind away. Then I started to think, I do have 25+ years in marketing and 3 years in blogging and managing websites with quite a bit of knowledge.
Many of my old friends have no clue what I am talking about and others that are in marketing don’t get all the blogging, etc.
I still feel I need to learn a lot every day though. Things change so quickly that once you learn it – it changes! I love to share too, what good is the knowledge if we can’t share it with our friends and readers? We all can’t no everything so we must not assume all bloggers will know everything we know right?
We all bring different experiences to the ballgame too. And we may inteprete things differently. I may see a strike and you a ball. We learn from each other too. To more years of learning and sharing Mitch πŸ™‚
Lisa recently posted…Vizify Makes it Easy To Promote the Best of You or Your BrandMy Profile

June 22nd, 2013 | 4:53 PM

Great stuff Lisa and yes, you got it. I mean, 25 years of doing anything makes you an expert at something right? And being asked a question and then being able to answer it means someone thought of you as an expert and, in that moment, you were. Of course if it’s my team’s pitcher they’re all strikes. lol

June 24th, 2013 | 12:14 AM

Hey Mitch, I’m 54 years old and I am still learning. You have to if you want to stay above the general population.

I also believe that you have to be willing to share with others. How else do you show them that you know what you’re talking about.

Good on you for making the list of experts.
Sire recently posted…Online Passive Income Is It PossibleMy Profile

June 22nd, 2013 | 8:52 PM

Thanks Sire and it seems we have a mini consensus on the sharing thing. I love sharing; otherwise, my blog might just be me griping about things. And who’d want to read that? lol

June 24th, 2013 | 12:15 AM

Certainly not as many as enjoy reading it now Mitch.

Having said that, its good to have someplace to vent every now and again πŸ˜€
Sire recently posted…Best Place To Get Lottery Tickets OnlineMy Profile

July 1st, 2013 | 6:38 AM

I’m with you there; I’m not fussing enough though. lol

July 3rd, 2013 | 1:09 AM

1,400 posts?! I’ve started blogging only this year in regards to my area of work. I enjoy it, 1. Because it’s rewarding when someone finds the information helpful, and 2. I find by writing them I tend to do more research than usual and continue learning myself. But do you mind me asking how you’ve found the resources and ideas to write so many blogs on the same subject? I sometimes find myself struggling from week to week to not just repeat what I’ve already said. I still have a lot to learn!

June 22nd, 2013 | 11:57 PM

Welcome Brittany. First, you might want to check out my blogging series by looking at the link above, as I touch upon that subject and many others. The thing is that you can take any subject and, with a little bit of thought, turn it into at least 10 other topics. For instance, I noticed on your link you mention Chicago. So you start off about Chicago and you can talk about its weather, its sports teams, its politics, different neighborhoods, gentrification, talk shows, radio history, suburbs, its history and its first non-native American settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who happened to be a black man. πŸ™‚ Out of all of those things there are hundreds of other stories to tell.

In other words, all one has to be willing to do is expand the parameters of the subject, open one’s mind, and off you go.

June 24th, 2013 | 12:22 AM

There are definitely experts. In fact, there are more of them than ever. It used to be that there were a handful of authorities in each field, and there wasn’t much room for newcomers to break in. Now, things change so quickly and so dramatically that we always need someone to step into the gap and be the new expert for a while. On the other hand, somebody like you can use longevity to support his claim — but only because you’ve been willing to continually learn and explore unfamiliar territory. Keep up the great work.
Charles Gulotta recently posted…Getting Over My Down-Under FantasyMy Profile

June 24th, 2013 | 9:55 AM

Charles, once the economy started changing, people stopped having that option of going to a specific company and working there for 30 to 40 years anymore. Those jobs aren’t coming back, so people have to start looking out more for themselves and that’s one direction to go. It’s not quite why I decided to work for myself but there’s a part of it that’s pertinent. Thing is, you’re an expert writer as well, multiple books, humor (I can’t fully get that one down), and I know you have lots to share with people as well, especially with some of what you’ve written. Truthfully, you need to write at least one post that talks about those previous books on your blog. Sure, it’d be out of character, but it would let people know what you’re all about, and you might sell some new books. πŸ™‚

June 24th, 2013 | 10:11 PM

I think you employ an excellent balance of the issues that makes one an expert in a field. On one hand, you could be the most knowledgeable person in a field but if nobody knows that, does it really matter if you are an expert in your job or whatever you have expertise in? On the other hand, you can be perceived as an expert because everybody else says you’re “the guy” with all the knowledge but you may not really have a high level of knowledge that one expects from an expert. There’s definitely some balance or combination of those issues that makes one legitimately an expert. Otherwise, what discriminates between a true expert and somebody who talks a lot and harasses people but lacks relevant knowledge?

Good post.
Adam Kielich recently posted…What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?My Profile

June 25th, 2013 | 1:31 AM

Looking at it too deeply Adam. The thing about being seen as an expert is if you can answer other people’s questions, either immediately or after doing some research. I don’t know why HTML works, but I can build webpages. I couldn’t look at catheter and tell you whether it’s an implantable catheter or not, but I can tell you after talking to someone who tells me that whether it’s billable and how much reimbursement can be retrieved from it, especially if it’s billed with the proper procedure. Experts don’t need to know it all; they just need to know enough to give their potential client what they need. πŸ™‚

June 26th, 2013 | 11:33 PM

Excellent post Mitch Mitchell. You really dialed that in. It’s the simple principles that worked for people that have already been where we are heading and desire to be that we should pay close attention to.Thanks for keeping it real and I always look forward to your next post!
Saanvi recently posted…Social Media As An Effective Experience For Business GrowthMy Profile

June 27th, 2013 | 2:47 AM

Thanks Saanvi, though I have to admit I probably should ask you to explain your thoughts more.

June 28th, 2013 | 12:18 AM

I will have to disagree with the first, “Some Knowledge of What You’re Talking About” because I believe it requires a lot more than “some.” In my humble opinion, an expert needs to know a lot about what they are talking about or else they are merely “know-it-alls”
Farouk recently posted…Why women like men with dogsMy Profile

June 29th, 2013 | 3:39 PM

Farouk, what number then? I mean, you must have a number or figure of how much knowledge someone has to have in something before someone else can consider them an expert right? Of course you also don’t know me & don’t know my speech patterns so you don’t know that I tend to not like to overstate things in my language all that often. Do you disagree with all the things I highlighted about myself after that statement as well? Just asking…

June 30th, 2013 | 8:13 PM

Yes, i am agree with you, because what ever you are writing in your website you have guts to share it publically and you must have some knowledge about the topic, only then you will be able to answer the comment available in your article. You have elaborate in a well manner, thanks for sharing and hope you come again with your more interesting article soon.

Rahul Kundliya recently posted…List of Best IELTS Coaching Centers in PuneMy Profile

July 2nd, 2013 | 9:08 AM

It’s already up Rahul πŸ™‚

July 3rd, 2013 | 1:12 AM

Mitch, you are a great professional my friend. Really consistent and always ready to learn new things. I gave an interview yesterday over Skype and actually at the end of the conversation, I was asked to recommend an expert blogger, of course you come first to my mind, so expect to get contacted.
Carl recently posted…Three Solutions for Common Computer ProblemsMy Profile

July 3rd, 2013 | 1:09 AM

That’s nice of you Carl, thanks. What kind of interview was it that you gave?

July 3rd, 2013 | 2:17 AM

I agree with Farouk about the use of the word “some.” Having “some” experience doesn’t qualify you as an expert, in my opinion. I have “some” experience and knowledge in quite a few things but I am an expert when it comes to MEDIA & media training. I have more than 300 videos online but that doesn’t qualify me as a video expert. I have three blogs but I still don’t see me as a blogging expert. And as far as social media goes, I’m all over the place but that doesn’t make me an expert.

There is a woman on Twitter who was promoting herself as a PR expert. When I asked what she did specifically, she told me she was a receptionist at a radio station for 7 years. Now does that make her an expert because she was in the business for awhile? I would say no but she managed to get around what she actually did at the station by just promoting the fact that she was in media. That’s misleading and A LOT of people do it.

I do, however, agree wholeheartedly with your other points.
Beverly Mahone recently posted…The Importance of Video TestimonialsMy Profile

July 8th, 2013 | 11:28 PM

I would agree and disagree with you Bev. Sure, longevity in a place with no experience doing something wouldn’t qualify anyone as an expert. In your case though, you’ve actually done some seminars on some of the topics you don’t consider yourself an expert at. In my opinion, once you start teaching someone something they didn’t know and you’re able to answer every question they ask you, or at least almost all of them, in some way you’re an expert, or at least a knowledgeable authority. Now, you can choose to denigrate yourself or others because you feel you or they don’t have full knowledge but remember that even physicians don’t know it all and get diagnoses wrong all the time, and they’re continually learning… at least we hope so.

July 10th, 2013 | 7:23 AM
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