Everyone wants to be considered an expert. But what does that really mean and how do you do it?
In reality, the whole concept of expert can arguably be defined and discussed in many different ways. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s take a look at the following two features that play a part in making someone an expert in her field: deep factual knowledge and personal experience.
People whose expertise mainly revolves around deep factual knowledge will be able to regurgitate a wide variety of relevant facts, data and information on a given topic. Armed with this type of expertise, you can provide lots of value by simply passing on information to others. People come to the internet for information and if you can be a reliable source, you will find a place in the blogging world.
However, a person with real-life personal experience in a topic area often develops a special and unique type of expertise. This does not mean you have to be old and wise, or the experience has to be profound.
Personal experience can be anything life hands you at any stage of your life. Maybe as a teen you traveled everywhere by bicycle, and as a result, you had to fix a lot of flat tires and became very efficient at doing so. Through that experience, you now know a lot about the tools, techniques and procedures for changing a tire.
Certainly it’s great to be able to merge personal experience and deep factual knowledge, but this isn’t always possible or even necessary. For example, a cancer doctor and a cancer survivor can both be experts in the same topic. Yet each provides valuable expertise to others interested in the topic in very different ways.
A cancer doctor can provide lots of expertise based on knowledge and skills related to the subject. However, no matter how hard she tries, if she has not actually had the disease herself, she will likely not be able to provide the expertise the patient needs in the way of support and true understanding that often comes only from the shared experience a survivor can offer.
Even if you only share an experience and do not include much in the way of additional facts or information, you can provide lots of value to others in similar situations.
Whether a person focuses on factual knowledge, personal experience or a combination of the two, a true expert is smart enough to understand that she does not know everything in her subject area. Ironically, the most valuable experts have lots of humility and are constantly striving to learn more. So work hard to learn something new every single day.
In the end, the term expert is just a label given to you by others as a result of demonstrating knowledge and/or experience that provides value to those people. It’s out of your hands to a great extent.
So, rather than concerning yourself too much with gaining the title of expert, it’s more important to analyze your current level of skill, knowledge and experience in your chosen subject area and keep your focus on finding ways to improve. Then you will develop into an expert naturally.