What Makes Someone An Expert?

April 23, 2014

I’ve just had a client email me who signed up with with an ‘expert’ to help her with marketing, only to find what she got was not what she signed up for.  Has this ever happened to you?

This begs the question, what makes someone an expert?

What Makes Someone An Expert

In just about any field you can think of, there are self proclaimed experts.  But often their true skill level doesn’t become clear until you’ve committed … and paid.

If you’re in LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter you’ll have come across profiles where they state their expertise and lets be honest, if you’re looking for some outsourced assistance … you need an expert.

Truth is we are all learning, constantly.  Therefore, by definition is anyone really an expert?

Yes.  I have clients and use consultants I deem to be extremely skilled in their area of expertise. They know what’s happening, when it’s happening … they are often the reason things are happening!

So, how do you uncover these jewels in amongst the zirconium?

The Expert Audit

  1. Social media: Research both their business and personal profiles and activity.  The difference between the two may surprise you (how someone engages with friends can be completely different to how they engage professionally … should that be the case?).
  2. Google: There is nowhere to hide on Google.  Anything ever written by and about the ‘expert’ is there for all to see.  Keep going past the first few pages .. dig a little.
  3. Talk to them: Prepare your questions first and push their knowledge.  What do your instincts tell you?  What is your initial impression?  How well did they answer your questions?  Ask the same questions of their competitors .. how do the answers differ?
  4. Talk to their clients: They are obviously going to give you the details of clients they know will give them a glowing recommendation.  Again, ask some specific, pre-prepared questions.  Did they meet deadline, budget.  Where there any problems and if so, how did they deal with these problems.  Was there anything they could have done better.  Do they have any advice for you if you work with the expert?
  5. Ask your contacts: Tap into your existing network.  Chances are they will know of, or know someone who has dealt with your expert.  What was their impression or experience?


To Find an Expert

My biggest tip in finding an expert is again, to ask your network.  Look for referrals or word of mouth recommendations.  I’ve very rarely been let down by a referred ‘expert’.

Your turn: What’s your definition of an expert … do you consider yourself one?

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