Expertise may very well be the most powerful tool in your professional arsenal. With the ability to command attention and drive results, expertise is often the key that unlocks purchasing power. But what qualities define an expert and why are they so influential?
By delivering thought leadership, experts are able to earn the attention and business of organizations that value their expertise. For example, studies show that 58% of decision-makers base their selection of a business on thought leadership. Below is a look at four traits shared by experts and why expertise has become so valuable in today's business world.
1) Experts produce impressive results
Experts do more than just produce results. They consistently achieve outstanding results. And they continue to generate impressive results over an extended period of time. Experts also set themselves apart from their peers with the seemingly effortless way they achieve their goals.
In addition to yielding stellar results, the ROI of expertise is undeniable. From the ability to attract the attention of decision-makers to the ability to produce healthier profit margins, expertise is often a difference-maker. For example, studies show that nearly half of C-suite executives share their contact details after simply reading a thought leadership article and over 60% of them are willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that values expertise.
2) Experts devote time to practice
Impressive results do not magically unfold. And people are not born with expertise. The path to becoming an expert is often lengthy, requiring years of practice to develop and fine-tune a skill. While there are isolated instances in which a person achieves expertise at an early age, research shows that it can take years to become an expert. The exact length of time depends on the field and deliberateness of practice.
The "practice makes perfect" mentality can be seen in a variety of fields ranging from professional sports to architecture to cooking. For example, world-famous chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain perfected their cooking skills by practicing hours per day for decades. They both began practicing their trade as youths and perfected the art of cooking by attending culinary institutes and spending countless hours every week applying their learned skills in the restaurant industry.
3) Experts have mentors
A mentor can have a profound impact on an aspiring expert. By working alongside a trusted mentor, you can gain valuable insight into the habits, techniques, and behaviors used to achieve success. More importantly, a mentor can provide the support and encouragement you may need to overcome the challenges you may face as you continue on your path to becoming an expert.
The impact of a mentor can be seen across virtually every industry. From marketing, to sports, to broadcasting, many of today's most accomplished experts sharpened their skills with the guidance of a mentor. Here are a few examples of well-known experts who achieved success with the help of a mentor:
- Social media expert Mark Zuckerberg often turned to his mentor, Steve Jobs, for advice while he was expanding Facebook
- NBA star J.R. Smith perfected his basketball skills while playing alongside his teammate and mentor, LeBron James
- Talk show host Oprah Winfrey looked to Barbara Walters as she gained traction in the talk show industry.
4) Experts build authority in their fields
Thought leadership plays a key role in companies that are viewed as industry front-runners by consumers. Executives are devoting an increasing amount of time to reading thought leadership pieces, with some decision-makers spending an hour or more reading the latest cutting-edge material. As this trend continues, companies are responding by focusing more financial and human resources on developing expertise in a specific area.
Recently, the University of Miami has poured resources into COVID-19 thought leadership. At the Miami Herbert Business School, researchers are studying the impact of the virus across a wide array of business areas while providing complete and continued coverage on virus-related topics such as vaccine progress and safety risks. And by conducting COVID-19 studies, the university has leveraged its position as an industry expert to attract national attention.
How can you sharpen your expertise?
Showcasing your expertise is a surefire way to grab the attention of key decision makers and produce impressive results. But if you feel that you are not yet an expert in any particular area, you can put yourself on the fast track to expertise by following these four simple steps:
- Step One: Identify the skill or subject matter that you would like to sharpen or target.
- Step Two: Set aside at least an hour per day to practice. If your schedule is currently too tight, start with 30 minutes daily.
- Step Three: Find a trusted mentor who can lend support and encouragement as you practice your skill.
- Step Four: Establish yourself as an authority by sharing helpful tips, information, and content.
By practicing your skill, working alongside a mentor, and applying your sharpened skills to help others in your field, you can position yourself as an expert. But remember that the path to expertise does not suddenly end once you become an authority in your field. Expertise is not acquired in a vacuum. You must remain devoted to continued practice and learning to remain abreast of the latest industry developments.
For those without the time to become an expert, there is also the option of only positioning yourself as an expert. To learn how to do this, download “What is an expert and How to Position Yourself As One.”