How do I determine if someone is really an expert and can really help me and my business?
These days it seems there are experts for everything and they are all clamoring for your attention and dollars. Some are real and some are pretenders who want to be real experts.
How can you tell the difference?
There are “experts” who can teach you or help you in your business, blogging, social media and search engine optimization; I even heard on the radio that there are dating experts (I suppose it would take a lot of dating to become an expert in dating?).
What is an expert and how do I know if someone is a real expert or a pretender who is self proclaiming to be an expert?
Yesterday was an incredible day. My family and I headed south to Maryland to visit my friend and mentor Tim Kerin and then attend an open house celebration with my clients Joe and Maria Tarusuk who have taken a real step of faith over the last few years to buy a huge, old farm house that had been converted into a restaurant and now they are turning it into a recovery house for people with addictions.
Tim owns Learning Lessons in Business. He started it a few years ago and in addition he and his wife Tracey have owned seven successful multi-million dollar businesses over the last 26 years.
Through Learning Lessons in Business he has stared the “Leaders of the Roundtable” for CEO’s and executives. In addition he is a leader of a prestigious SBA Emerging Leaders class in Washington DC, co-owner of CORE Networking and he is building a beautiful resort home in Costa Rica (can’t wait to see it on HGTV this fall, seriously HGTV is doing a piece on their house) that will become a rental house and travel get-away-destination.
Tim created Learning Lessons in Business (LLIB) to help businesses owners learn the business behind the business. The nuts and bolts of things every business must have to be successful but because a business owner doesn’t know all the nuts and bolts they eventually get into huge trouble. If we are honest, it happens to us all. We learn more by getting in trouble sometimes because we just didn’t know what we didn’t know.
LLIB helps business owners before they get in trouble with the IRS, Labor Commissions, employees, vendors and contractors, and so much more!
Unfortunately, not all of Tim’s years in business were so successful. Every business has its challenge points and moments as he shares in his book and presentations. He has taken his lumps and overcome a tremendous amount of adversity. In his book “10 Lessons Learned…How to Build a Successful Business” Tim shares that he and his wife Tracey at one point faced almost being bankrupt and homeless.
What does this have to do with being an expert you may ask?
What is an Expert?
Let’s turn to the technical definition of an expert. Merriam-Webster.com defines it like this:
“Having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced”
Okay, that isn’t so helpful for our context is it? But, it’s a good starting point.
Yesterday as Tim and I were talking he asked me how I would define an expert. He shared that he and some in a roundtable had a great conversation around the topic and he was hoping for some extra clarification.
So, how would I define an expert?
I come across individuals, websites and social media pages every day of people who claim to be an expert in something and try to explain why someone should buy their services:
- Business Coaches
- Marketing Coaches
- Social Media Specialists
- Internet Marketers
- Website Designers and Developers
- Search Engine Optimization Specialists
And the list goes on-and-on.
Many of the “so called” experts I come across regularly have one aspect of our definition. They have a skill or knowledge, but they don’t always have the experience or I’ll add one more; critical thinking skills.
Experts have a unique way of taking all their experiences, training and knowledge and know how to apply them to their clients’ needs, situations and circumstances.
I find that many “experts” do not have this skill yet.
I define an expert as someone who:
- Meets the initial criteria of the definition above:
- Special Skill
- Masters their craft daily and works to become the best in their field through self development, education and conversations with others.
- Who doesn’t have to classify themselves or refer to themselves as an expert but they have social validation which says they are.
- Has the proof and social validation to prove it in their chosen fields.
I just want to take a few paragraphs to focus on two things from the points above:
An Expert Masters Their Craft Daily
Experts are learners and they prove it by the means with which they help their customers and clients.
This last Thursday I was on a featured webinar with SEMrush and one lady had a really fantastic and insightful question for me during the question time. She said she is not a native English speaker or writer and wondered if she had to continue focusing on improving her English skills in order to reach an English speaking/reading audience?
You can imagine my answer, but I’ll tell you.
I said to her; “If you are not willing to master your craft then you cannot engage that audience. You owe that to your audience and they expect it from you. You have to master English as best you can and over time. It won’t come all at once and that is okay. But you must make the effort to learn it over the next number of years as best you can.
The issue is if you blog for an English reading audience and your English skills are low you are creating a lack of trust in your ability to help that audience. They may not feel that you will fully understand them and clarity is the key to success in marketing. If people are not clear then they won’t come across as competent and if they are not feeling you are competent then they will not buy you.
It’s your job to create the clarity needed by mastering you craft! That means you have to master the English language.”
So let me ask you:
If you’re a blogger do you learn more each day about blogging, networking online and how to message your blog in a way that is persuasive, inspiring and gives people a reason to buy from you?
If you’re in social media and wanting to build an social media business are you modeling how to do social media by using it for your own business or are you just telling others what to do but you’re not doing it yourself because you’re “too busy?”
Are you a business or marketing coach who is giving advice on how to improve your business or marketing but you’re not taking your own advice when it’s appropriate?
Experts spend a lot of time creating and building competency in order to prove why someone should buy their services or products.
Competency is the reason why someone will buy from you and once you have proven you’re competent then your prospect will evaluate if they feel they know, like and trust you (which will be evaluated on social validation).
How do you become competent?
Learn “what business you’re “really” in!” Learn more in this article titled “Cut Through the Noise, Nonsense and Crap”
How are Others Engaging with You and What are They Saying About You?
Social validation is extremely important to an “expert” because again it’s not the practitioner who should be defining oneself as the expert. It’s those who experience a practitioner in some way that will define them as an expert.
Another way of saying this is if your website, social media, videos, podcasts, print materials are screaming “look at me, I’m great and gosh darn it everybody loves me so buy me” syndrome then you aren’t much of an expert.
You’re just someone who wants people to buy your stuff.
Experts are competent and share, teach, instruct, inform, provide value and genuinely help people. They give their prospects compelling reasons to buy from them.
When you make it about your audience, because that what being competent does, they will in turn return the favor by recognizing you as a trusted source who can help them solve their problems, make a difference in their lives or businesses, and help them get what they want.
An expert shares their expertise in a variety of formats that works for them and their audience as they establish their status and reason someone should buy from them.
It could be via:
- Audio Podcasting
Now the question is how to know if someone is an expert?
If you blog podcast or do video marketing; have you mastered your craft?
Do you provide content that offers information, answer questions, solve problems, helps someone or makes a difference for them?
- Have you taken the time to connect with other influencers and experts in content marketing that serve the same audience you do but in a different way and then network and help one another?
- Do you engage with them through their content with comments that add value or do you just leave short, pithy comments that no one cares about?
- Are you different in your voice because you’ve mastered your craft?
- Do you provide real value through your engagement, social shares?
- Do you make an attempt to get to know the influencer or are you obvious that you just want to take advantage of them and hope their audience will engage with your content without proving why they should?
If you’re lazy, then content marketing won’t work. I guarantee it!
If you don’t have a reason to build that website, blog, podcast or create videos; and create strategies, goals and objectives then your content marketing won’t work! I guarantee it!
I was reading on Saturday an article in a magazine whereby the author said blogging for business is a waste of time and is a slow means to attaining business.
That’s partially true!
However, this person is obviously an expert in knowing what “not” to do in blogging.
Blogging isn’t necessarily about making a lot of money today! It’s about demonstrating you’re competent! And when you’re competent and then connect with the right people the comments will start flowing and referrals from other bloggers, social media and search engines will start coming in over time.
Let me ask you a question; Do blog comments that are numerous, engaging and meaningful add a certain amount of social validation?
You bet they do!!!!
If it were not for the community I’ve built through my blog and through commenting I would not be in the position I am in today!
That community is reflected in the comments this blog receives each month and in how that community engages with me on guest posts on other sites; as well as on social media.
My blog in only six months opened the door for my business growth and the promotion of my services as well as my new eBook that is making huge headwinds and is being promoted all over the web by people other than me.
They are promoting “The Shift” in their blogs and all over Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Thank you Adrienne Smith, Ryan Biddulph, Deborah Tutnauer, Donna Merrill and Michael Stricker at SEMrush for being the initial catalyst for the marketing of “The Shift!”
Because of the social validation on my blog as well as the release of the new eBook:
- I have featured on two major podcasts in the last week
- I have written two articles for SEMrush.com and now I’ve been on a webinar with them that has brought massive awareness for my business and book.
- STRONG IN TECH BUT STRUGGLING WITH MARKETING? PROJECT CLARITY IN A DIGITAL MARKETPLACE
- DO YOU WANT TRAFFIC FROM GOOGLE? THEN BUILD A COMMUNITY!
- I will be on air live and in-studio on a major Philadelphia radio station on Friday March 27, 2015
- I’m speaking a several upcoming conferences.
- I have benn included at least 300 times in blogs across the internet as a resource and I’ve written articles for some amazing bloggers like Sherryl Perry and Donna Merrill.
In addition on October 12-17, 2015 the International Speakers Association will be hosting a “Network-A-Thon. Brittan Bullen has done an amazing job building this organization in a very short time! I will be a featured speaker along with the following notable expert bloggers:
- Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Café
- Kevin Duncan of Be a Better Blogger
- Ryan Biddulph of Blogging from Paradise
- Donna Merrill of Donna Merril Tribe
- Sue Anne Dunlevie of Successful Blogging
- Bonnie Frank of LadyBlogger.net
I encourage you to check out the Network-A-Thon if you want to learn more about blogging.
In short, social validation means that people engage with you, share you and invite you to special things to share what you have to say!
The fact of the matter is that you don’t get to define yourself as an expert!
One thing Tim mentioned in our conversation was during the Roundtable, CEO’s of companies were struggling with knowing who to hire to help them with their business. Who are the real experts from those pretending to be experts?
Tim is a definite expert. He has overcome challenges to become highly successful and he is able and willing to share how being competent in business can help others in their business. In turn, he is sought after in every business he has and because of it and his customers and clients keep coming back for more!
My recommendation is if you want to know if someone is an expert; just ask yourself the following:
- Do they have the knowledge, skill set and experience to help me?
- Do they have good listening and critical thinking skills?
- Are they competent to really help me?
- Are they becoming masters of their craft more and more every day and how so?
- Are they referring to themselves as experts because they have big insecure egos or are others proclaiming how they benefited by working the “expert”?
- Do they have the social validation and proof that they are making a difference for others?
In the end, I believe experts are created and defined by their audience and followers. We don’t get to define ourselves that way as business owners and entrepreneurs, and nor should we. If we don’t have something of value to say that changes people’s lives or businesses for the better than what exactly are we experts of?
It’s not enough to just be skilled, knowledgeable and experienced!
Lots and lots of people are that. If you want to be an expert then you have to do the work that will create the conditions for someone else to call you that.
If you’re looking for an expert consultant or coach, I hope this article has helped you learn how to understand the difference between those who are pretenders and those are truly experts in their field and can help you in your business.
If you want to learn more about my training, consulting or coaching services, click here to check out how I can help your business today!
What do you think? I would love to know your thoughts and opinions so please leave a comment below and let’s talk about it together!