When is an Expert and Expert?

Do I have you thinking right now? Are you wondering about who and what is an expert? Are you thinking about what you look for in an expert or what qualifies a person to you as an expert?

 These and many more question have come up lately in some conversations with friends on the web and in public. Just recently I talked to a group of business professionals about the term expert and how they define it. I also just recently talked to a team of Doctors about the same thing. So I have some interesting news to write about.

First let me start here. When I was in my senior year of college, and I am going to date myself now, 1976 I had what I considered a forward thinking professor who stated one day that you are only an expert for as long as it takes someone else to think of something that makes them the new expert. Well back then usually you had some time before someone took you over with their thoughts or ideas.

I know as an Investment Banker I never called myself an expert. I was always taught to consider myself a knowledgeable person in a field. I was also told to surround myself with knowledgeable people not experts. When I asked why my Dad and Uncle who were both very wise men said one day you will understand. It did happen one day and I am glad I listened.

Although I thought about it for years why didn’t I want experts? Then I would think back to my college professor and my Dad and Uncle’s talks and remember what they said. Especially my professor who said you’re only an expert until someone new comes along. So my question was why are there all of these so called experts around?

Well now it is 2014 and the same thing is happening. There are experts online, on the street and all around and I can’t figure out where they are all coming from? I know there can’t be that many experts. Go on G+ someday and look at all of the experts about Social Media or SEO or Marketing. I could go on forever and ever and it isn’t just on G+. Facebook, Linkedin, Quora and other social communities. Never mind all of the expert blogs I see daily. It’s truly amazing.

Many will probably get upset with me and I understand that. I know you consider yourselves to be experts in your filed and that’s fine. What I want to know is this. If you are a Social Media expert and you are helping a restaurant with their social media strategy how do you know what they will need if you aren’t an expert in the restaurant field?

Working in social media for a restaurant is different than let’s say a mens clothing store, right? I mean no two businesses are alike just like Doctors say about people. In fact, when I brought this up to my Doctor friends whom I spoke with last week they stated the exact same thing. They are very and or extremely knowledgable in their field. They need to know just their field and how to treat it. Then they have to understand each patient is different.

Back to social media for a minute. So how does an expert in social media work with a restaurant and mens clothing store and know both of those fields as an expert? Maybe it’s more than one client in many different businesses. The thing is it is still the same. Are they an expert in social media in general or all of their clients businesses as they relate to social media> I don’t see the latter happening.

They are an expert in social media and use the same for each business. Is that fair?  My thought would be that there are so many social media experts out there for the taking why not be knowledgable in that field? Why not study more and frequently in your clients fields to address their issues? Why not refrain from being an expert when the term won’t fit possibly in 5 minutes after you use it because someone else came along with a new idea on how to do something better?

It’s 2014 and an expert is born every minute if you ask me. What I want to know is if there is an expert born every minute or so where does that leave the last expert? What happened to that expert I was talking to earlier? What if the expert was really a very knowledgeable person whom I want to always use? What if my knowledgeable person is better than an expert because he or she keeps learning and never claims to be an expert knowing they won’t be in 5 minutes or less?

I will always choose a knowledgeable person over and expert. I will always look for the knowledgeable person before the expert and my advice to you is to do the same for better business and living.