Merriam Webster dictionary defines Expert as: having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.
Wikipedia says….."An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. An expert can be, by virtue of training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual's opinion...."
Before I start my story….. Let me say without a shadow of a doubt I am NOT an Expert, I know a lot, but I am far from an Expert…. In this subject anyway.
I always equated the term Expert with knowledge and experience. I mean, just knowing the material in my opinion does not make you an expert, it just makes you knowledgeable. Why am I bringing this up you ask? I recently was sitting in my office minding my own business when my text tone went off, it was a partner of mine who currently was attending a webinar. She was getting ready to leave for a conference and it was a webinar on how to get the most out of the conference. Apparently they were going to be using Social Media tools in order to enhance the conference and she was excited to find out how to utilize them to get more bang for her buck at this conference.
At first she was very disappointed that this seemed to be a 101 type of Social Media instruction, at that point they lost her. She did what I have done in a similar circumstance, I started looking up the people who were giving the webinar. She starts blowing up my phone with rapid fire texts….. Look up this person…. They only have 517 followers on twitter, Look up this person…. They have 1037 twitter followers…… then comes the all important question….. How can they be experts when I have more twitter followers ( she has 13K+ and I have 35 K+ ) and they have already given 2 wrong instructions? She then started digging further, they are proclaiming themselves as Social Media Experts, have a company that will do it for you, will help you establish you on the web, raise your Google ratings etc. I could picture her in her office… shaking her head.
In this very digital age Social Media Experts are a dime a dozen, typically anyone who proclaims they are an expert are probably the furthest thing from it. Just because I read a book on how to do something or take a class doesn’t make me an expert. However you have those that don’t know any better who will believe someone because they don’t know any better.
I do a lot of my own research, I have gone to many a webinar and seminar on Social Media applications and practices. I learned so much that I was able to generate 30% of the attendance at a groups National Conference just using applications and techniques I had learned. Does that make me an Expert or just really good?
It distresses me when I see people proclaim themselves as “Experts” but haven’t a real clue what they are talking about, yet because they are good sales people, and have the ability to take information in and regurgitate it as if it was their original thoughts….. they are deemed experts.
I have a deep appreciation for Experts, I hire them, some of them are my best friends, without them I would be lost.
So what do you think? What is the definition of an Expert? If I study everything there is about music and playing a piano, but I am tone deaf does that still make me an Expert? If I learn everything there is to know about Pole Vaulting, so that I know it inside and out and upside down, yet can’t actually vault, does that make me an expert Pole Vaulter?
Personally, I think it is not enough to know the material, you must be able to put it into practice and successful at it. Just simply knowing the info is not enough, You must be able to not only Talk the Talk, you have to Walk the Walk, because the way the definition stands.... I am an Expert on a Whole Lot of Things..... ask anyone I know, they will tell you.