It’s been said that you are an expert in your field if you’ve been immersed in it for five years. With today’s fast-moving, perpetually changing world, that is becoming harder to claim. Especially where technology is concerned, you might be an expert one day and behind in the game the next.
If you want to call yourself an expert, be cautious. That title comes with high expectations from clients. In other words, don’t sell yourself as something you’re not. Don’t get in too deep. Don’t become misleading. Do what you know and admit it when you reach a wall.
Now, maybe you’ve read this and thought, “Well I am an expert!” Perhaps you do stand out amongst the crowd. You might just be the go-to person (right now). Good for you!
Or maybe you’re thinking, “How am I supposed to sell myself if I don’t call myself an expert?” Well, as a starting point, there are a few general traits a true expert should have. Go through this list and see how many apply to you?
To be called an expert, you should know your area of expertise to the point that you can give a convincing elevator speech about it. Keep in mind, there’s a difference between really knowing something and knowing about it. When preparing your elevator speech do you find yourself rhyming off rhetoric you’ve heard from others, or are you using your own experience to most accurately describe what it is you do or know?
You may have extensive knowledge about your area of expertise, but another key ingredient an expert should have is knowhow. Do you know how to strategically use what you know to accomplish specific goals or achieve specific outcomes? Do you understand your subject from a variety of perspectives? For instance, if you need to deal with a client that sees things differently than you, are you flexible enough to adapt?
3. Teaching Ability
To be an expert you should be able to explain your work to others. If you had to, could you teach what you know to someone else? Can you explain things well enough that those listening will walk away knowing how to use what you’ve taught them? Are you able to take them a step beyond what they already know?
4. Ongoing Learning
In a changing world, to remain an expert means continuously updating. Do you immerse yourself in new education about your area of expertise? Do you not only do the bare minimum to stay current, but add to your field? Are you able to think of things that haven’t been tried before? Do you bring a fresh perspective, not just repeat what others have said or done?
5. Capable of Deflecting Criticism
Experts are often judged on their “so-called” expertise. Would you pass the test? Are you open to having others dissect your knowledge? Are you ready, willing or able to publish your insights and have what you write scrutinised?
Do you have a good reputation? Do you deliver what you promise? Can you back up what you say? Are you able to deflect criticism positively?
6. Interpersonal Relationships
When someone works with an expert, they often want to be part of the solution. Do you work well with people? Are you confident enough in your expertise that you are open to suggestions? Are you willing to try new ways of doing things?
An expert will also be compared to the competition. Do you know who your competition is? Are you comfortable with your competition? Do you welcome the challenge they present?
Have you been in your field in-depth enough and in enough varied situations that you know a number of strategies? Have you been successful in your work? Do you have experience to draw from? Do you have recommendations from others?
In a Nutshell…
Becoming a well-rounded expert requires a lot of ingredients. Make sure you fit the bill before putting out your shingle. Of course, if you aspire to become an expert but aren’t quite there, simply find another name to call yourself. It’s as easy as that.