What Makes An Expert?

Two lawyers in a room, sitting side by side. Technically, each one is just as competent as the other.

Then one of them stands up, takes the stage and speaks for an hour in front of a crowd of people hungry for information. This is the expert.

The other attorney, however, isn’t an expert. He’s just a lawyer. Perhaps a very good one, but not an expert.

What makes one the expert and the other a bystander?

Public opinion makes the expert. Get enough people who agree that you’re the bee’s knees and suddenly … you are.

Look around you and find those who are the recognized experts in their chosen fields. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, pundits, teachers and more. Each one is an expert because they have been anointed by a group large or small.

In order to be anointed, you’re going to need to impress people one by one. And to do that, you’ve got to get out of your shell and be where the people are.

  • Make friends.
  • Listen to others carefully.
  • Give an opinion when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Write relentlessly.
  • Be informed about the world around you.
  • Share the knowledge you have.

It’s a slow build, a relentless march that many of your colleagues don’t care to undertake. That difficulty is precisely why there are so few recognized experts in any given field, and why the stage is clear for you to make your move.

Step forward.

It Used To Be Easier

You’re right.

Ten years ago it was easier to get your message heard by those you want to reach. Less noise, less competition, less complexity.

Say it next year and you’ll be right again.

The noise is getting louder, the competition bolder, and stakes higher.

Which means it’s easier today than it will ever be in the future.

You’ve got a decision to make – stand on the sidelines and lament the past, or get in the game now and figure out how to win.

What’s your choice?

Shorter Is Smarter

Once upon a time, someone defined a blog post as being a link to someone else’s story with a few bits of your own commentary built in.  That worked pretty well for awhile.

Then people realized that by adding comments to the blog posts, you could have a conversation with other people who read the same piece and had something to add to it.  So blogging was redefined as being something weighty.

Smart people, after all, seldom use fewer than 400 words to get to a point.

But what if you’re simply answering a question? Do you take 400 words to respond to a simple query?

Do your clients even want such a long-winded response?

Do they have the time or inclination to read it?

Probably not.  Consider that next time you set your hand the the keyboard.

Sometimes, shorter is smarter.

The Currency Of Credibility

Endorsements, reviews and feedback are all the rage.

Like a product or a service? Click the button and move on.

Have a less-than-stellar time of things? Show your displeasure.

When you endorse a fellow lawyer, you lend our credibility and authority.  You’re proclaiming to the world, “I know this attorney and trust him in this particular field of practice.”

What happens when you recommend or endorse a lawyer for skills he or she does not possess?

How about sending someone to a lawyer for divorce only to be told that the attorney practices only in an unrelated field?

LinkedIn Endorcements

Our strongest currency is our credibility.

Squander that and there’s nothing left, professionally and personally.

Better off refraining from making the recommendation.

Spend your currency where it will do the most good.

There Are No Shortcuts

shortcutYou fire up a new website or blog, expecting to see massive amounts of traffic. Your web marketing company promised it, after all.

A web guru says during a webinar that you need to get into search engine optimization. You need to repeat certain terms in your website so the Internet will rank you at the top of the results. So you turn every page into, “Bankruptcy Lawyer In Cleveland,” and wait for the rankings.

No such luck.

Someone tells you that you MUST be on Twitter. So you sign up and push out a bunch of links, expecting them to go viral and make you a superstar.

Doesn’t happen.

Here’s the thing: there are no shortcuts. No magic button to press, no secrets to be revealed.

Yes, you need to understand search engine optimization. Then you need to deploy it, hone it, perfect your technique.

Sure, you should understand the impact of social media and where it fits with your audience.

The learning never ends. There is no finish line. Because once you know what you’re doing, someone goes and changes the rules. Or some new competitor opens up shop down the block and eats your lunch.

You’ve got to commit to doing the work.

Not interested? Prefer to write a check and have someone else do it?

Good. That makes the rest of us happier because our job is going to be that much easier.

Make your choice. Because while you’re sitting around thinking about the next “get rich quick” thing to save your practice, we’ve got out heads down.

We’re working. How about you?

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