What Makes You the Expert?

There’s a common reason why people either:Expert panel

  • Don’t speak; and/or
  • Don’t sell or promote themselves

…….They don’t think they are good enough, or enough of an expert to get out there and talk about what is they do.

You might limit yourself because you compare yourself to others or that you don’t know enough.  You focus on what you don’t know and what you are not.

My own expertise was questioned recently and whether I should be paid for it, and it got me thinking in more depth, what makes someone an expert?  I broke it down to three questions that I asked myself.

Question 1: Do you have to be an expert to get paid?

Payment is simply an exchange of value.  People will pay for what they see value in.  I tend to be frugal and look for bargains when shopping for food and clothes – though I do value good health, and will pay more for food that is healthy.  I also value learning and personal growth and have invested a lot of money in that in the last ten years because of the return in value I receive.

What you value will determine where you spend your money.  If someone can give you something you need, then isn’t that enough to warrant an exchange?

If you are selling something, it is up to you to demonstrate the value to your potential buyer.  Some will see the value, and others will not.

Being an expert in your industry will boost your perceived value, and then even what makes an expert is again a perception.  Expertise can be based on your:

  • Media profile;
  • Clientele;
  • Knowledge or education;
  • Publications;
  • Results

Challenge:  Consider how you can boost your expertise and own your value.

Question 2: Does being an expert depend on how good you are? Do you have to be perfect or flawless to be an expert?

It depends on what you are using to measure ‘good’.  Is it your ability at the skill you are teaching; or your ability to teach?

For me, I know I am very skillful in getting the gems out of someone’s talk – to focus on certain parts of their story for maximum impact.  I can also give a speaker greater confidence and stage presence.  Am I flawless on stage – heck no.  And I don’t aim to be.  Authentic and natural is more my style.

I think of an expert as someone who knows their stuff!  Journalist look to experts for information to write their articles – someone who can give ‘how-to’s or someone who can relate their experience.  How well do you know your stuff?

Challenge:  Define your expertise.  What do you really know well?  Consider what areas you can work on to improve your expertise?

Question 3: Do you have to be an expert teacher/coach OR an expert at what you are teaching?

Let’s go to sport to argue this one.  Most high-level coaches were not champions in their sport, and many champions do not make great coaches.  There are different skills for playing and for coaching.

Some champions are ‘unconsciously competent’ – that is, they don’t know how they do what they do well.  They can’t teach it.

Coaches and teachers have an ability to lead, to encourage, to support and bring out the best in their students.  Another example are piano or music teachers.  Most teachers have not played at Carnegie Hall (or similar).  They may base their expertise on who they have taught or number of students.

A mentor is completely different – a mentor has been where you want to go, they do teach from experience.  Not only will a mentor pass on skills, they can pass on other associated experiences.  For example a music maestro may also share secrets on performing in front of large audiences, or how to handle the pressure of living on the road – tips you can only get from experience.

Challenge:  As an expert, do you have the coaching or communication skills to pass on your expertise?

Look, not everyone will be behind you, see your value or give you credit.  Not a problem.  It’s up to you to see your own value and your own expertise and own it.  Focus on what you are, rather than what you are not.

Then it doesn’t matter if people question you (or you think they might), because you know how good you are and what you have to offer.

What do you think about experts and what you are looking for in a coach or mentor?