Somebody who knows everything is not an expert.
They’re a know-it-all.
You’ve met them. They’re a self-proclaimed authority on practically every subject and share their insight unprompted.
Let’s be clear — that’s not what we’re aiming for.
Being a true expert isn’t about knowing everything. Being an expert is knowing a lot about one thing.
And the truth is… You are already an expert. I guarantee it.
Maybe you’re an expert in an area of your business or maybe you’re an expert in something seemingly unrelated.
Even if you don’t immediately recognize it, you’re an expert in something. You just have to identify what it is. And when you pinpoint your true expertise, you can capitalize on it for the good of your business.
Know-It-All vs. Expert: What’s the difference?
At first glance, it’s easy to confuse a know-it-all with an expert, but they’re vastly different.
A know-it-all knows a little about a lot, and loves to share that information to anyone and everyone who will listen. An expert knows a lot about a little and shares their insight with a very specific audience.
As you aim to increase your expertise, think in terms of depth, not breadth.
Take me for an example. Someone recently approached me after a workshop and said, “Tom, you’re an expert at many things. How can I become an expert?”
I corrected him, “First of all, I’m not an expert at many things. I’ve fooled you. I’m an expert at one or two things — and they’re small things. But I relate those two areas to a lot of other topics.”
Being an expert is not about knowing it all. It’s about relating what you know to other topics. True experts know one thing and they know it well. Then, they let that expertise spill over into other areas.
How I Became an Expert
To become a consultant, I knew I first had to first become an expert. So, years ago, I began working to elevate my expert status.
I started writing magazine articles about topics I had experience with. Back then, once your work was published in a magazine, you were deemed an expert.
Why? Because someone published you. You didn’t have to have a special degree, but being a published author gave you credibility.
The first article I had published was on best labor practices — specifically best payroll practices. I wrote out of my experience running a staffing company. Because of this experience and my status as a published author, I became an “expert” on labor.
Did that make me an expert on anything else?
Could connect it to a lot of other subjects?
From that point on, when someone asked me a question, I referred back to my expertise about labor and said, “In the labor industry, here’s how we would look at that.”
My expertise in labor practices spilled over into whatever else we were talking about. People who were looking to me as an expert saw that adjacency and said, “He’s just being modest. He really knows more than he’s letting on.”
When other people begin to recognize your ability to connect what you know to a variety of subjects, that’s when your expert status will really start to develop.
How to ID Your Expert Status
How can you become an expert?
You already are…
You just may not know what you’re an expert in.
To find out, ask your friends, family, and/or colleagues, “What would ask advice on? If you needed insight and came to me, what would you be asking?”
Their answers may surprise you. Maybe they’d ask you how to build model cars. Sure, it’s not directly related to your business, but make the connections.
How does knowing about model cars help your business? Building model cars requires a steady hand, attention to detail, and patience. Does that translate into what you do for a living? It probably does.
You can connect your expertise to almost anything.
Your unique insight is a tool for developing your brand and improving your business — in your marketing, how you communicate with employees, and how you sell your services.
As you identify your expertise, think a little more broadly about the term “expert.” Then, develop your expert status and work into your conversations.
Work it into your personal brand.
Work it into your sales persona.
Own your expertise. As you do, it will allow you to relate to your customers and colleagues in a different way that better conveys your message and helps you develop a brand unique to you.