How To Be An Expert

Shortly after he moved to America in 1933, Albert Einstein agreed to address a group of mathematicians at Princeton University on tensor analysis, a geometric entity used to explain general relativity. Details of the forthcoming talk were put on a notice board in the university.

Albert Einstein

However, when it came to day of the talk, the small hall was packed as students had told students, who had told parents, who had told friends and crowds were milling around the campus as if it were a Princeton-Yale football game.

Einstein, after looking about in surprise at the excited crowd struggling to get into the hall, began his speech: “I never realized that in America there was so much interest in tensor analysis.”

This story shows us the value and pull of those who are considered “expert”. This is a central concept of internet marketing.

einstein eyes

Who exactly is an “expert”?

An expert recognized as a reliable source who is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific domain. You’ll notice I put the word “expert” in quotes. In the field of internet marketing and social media there are many who call themselves “experts” who have limited experience. And there are many “experts” who don’t realize it.

What if you consider yourself to have only a standard grasp of your speciality and think that others are more “expert” than you? The answer is that you are an expert because your experience and interests are particular to you. No one else has them. Therefore you have specific expertise that can be saleable.

Another reason that you are an expert is because you stand on the shoulders of giants. We all do. I may not have a great understanding of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity but, with the help of Einstein and other experts I have an inkling of how time and space could be seen as one shifting, warping entity. And, believe me, I was never the best Physics student.

So, how to you get these “experts” to talk to you an impart their knowledge so that you can stand on their shoulders?

einstein linkedin


Today you have a great opportunity to talk and ask questions of experts. It is relatively easy to find out where these guys hang out. For example, as I mentioned in my last post about LinkedIn, I’m a big fan of LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn has 100,000,000 professionals from all over the world on it’s books. Pick any niche, discipline or subject of expertise and there will be a group of people there who are regularly talking about it.

Would you like to ask a group of expert WordPress people the best way to make a WordPress site? You can! I asked the LinkedIn WordPress Group the best shared hosts for WordPress and the best VPS hosts for WordPress and, as you can see, I got a great couple of posts from it.

einstein twitter


Twitter is another obvious example of a great way to follow experts. Pick an expert that you really admire and see who they follow. See what they are tweeting about. Pretty soon, with Twitter, you can become immersed in their world. Seeing what websites they visit, who they’re talking to and what they think. Interact with your experts and pretty soon you’ll be considered an expert too!

einstein forums


Forums are great places to get advice. OK, as with all advice out there on the internet you have to be careful it’s actually good advice but, using common sense in large forums, it’s pretty easy to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here are three fantastic forums for all things internet related.

I have found the above forums absolutely indispensable for everything from fixing CSS bugs to long term business advice. While you can get some incredible advice from these places, you may get the odd idiot say something stupid as well :) but, hey, the joys of the internet!

einstein contact

Contact Experts Direct!

I’ve left the best until last! You can contact your expert direct to ask them their opinion. You’ll be amazed how many will reply. You may think these people are too busy and don’t want to talk to you but you’d be surprised.

Tim Ferriss offers (expert) advice about this in his fantastic book The 4-Hour WorkWeek. Tim says it’s relatively lonely at the top and therefore those who’ve reach the zenith of their occupations often relish a good chat with a receptive fan. Research your expert well and ask good questions. What have you got to lose? The worse thing that can happen is that they don’t reply. They may say “get back to me on this in a month’s time” – this is a classic filtering process. Make sure you put a reminder in your diary – it’s just to weed out the time wasters and you’re not a time waster!

Once a relationship is forged with an expert it may be worth asking for an interview which can be turned into a recorded Skype chat or podcast.

And finally

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote attributed to Einstein. It’s his definition of insanity:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

What about you?

Have you ever used any of the above techniques to elicit expert advice? Or, have you employed another method of contacting a person who is considered an “expert”? Your opinions have been great of late. As always, interested to hear your views.

Did this help you? If so, please share!

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  1. says

    Hi Rob,
    What a well-planned post. You know, it’s funny how you specifically mentioned “experts” in quotes. That makes the word an expert (Did that make sense?) Anyway, these are great resources, and I would like to add a site to your list that is extremely credible and respected. You may have heard of it (Not trying to spam your comments with a link, so we’ll just leave off the http://) Full of organized and verifiable “experts”. In the viral world, it takes time to be viewed as an “expert” in anything.

  2. says

    Hello Brian, thanks for the comment. I’ve actually never come across so thanks for the heads up. It looks like a very busy well supported site, a good place to get an article featured. Yes, as you say, it takes time. But everyday in every way, we’re becoming more and more “expert”!

    • says

      Great Article Rob.

      The only thing with the Warrior Forum Christina is that you need to know most people are trying to sell stuff, so you need to wear your sanity filter when you go on there. But on the other hand, if you have a problem, there are some awesome people on there willing to help.

      • says

        I like your expression of “sanity filter”, Chris. You probably need that on a lot of websites. Yes, the Warrior Forum is really only for internet marketers and they are a mixed bunch, let’s just put it like that. Thanks for the comment, Chris, welcome to the site!

  3. says

    As far as contacting the experts are concerned, I find that the direct approach works best. You can’t expect a response every single time, but you will be surprised at how many people are willing to talk to you once they see you are as passionate about their subject as they are. Of course it helps to actually be interested in the topic…

    • says

      You’re absolutely right, Alex, people would be surprised how approachable experts are. Sometimes they can be more receptive than other people. And, yes, being interested in the topic is crucial.

  4. says

    Interesting post Rob. I see so many people on Twitter referring to themselves as an “expert”, “guru” or “entrepreneur”, particularly when there field is internet related (SEO and social media for example), that I have to question their integrity.

    Saying you’re an expert in anything is incredibly easy. Just add it to your website copy and people won’t know the difference, often because they have no understanding of whatever it is you’re claiming to be an expert in (hence the reason for them coming to you).

    In some cases I think this could lead to misleading a client. For example, I see a lot of people offering ‘professional’ graphic design at incredibly low prices when in fact their work is far from it (I’ve mentioned this quite a lot these past few days).

    If you were looking to get a brand identity designed and someone claiming to be a professional designer offered you a really low price, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t know what’s involved in designing a logo questioning the price.

    They may be happy with the price and the final result but I think it could be bordering on misrepresentation. Or am I just being a typical ‘snobby designer’?

    • says

      No I don’t think you’re being a snobby designer and I, of course, agree with you that using the term “expert” when you have no authority is a big mistake.

      My take on the $30-for-logo-design niche is that you get what you pay for, as you point out. I’m sure the people who use these services realise they’re getting a rough and ready, off-the-shelf logo that they won’t be able to use anywhere else but on the website they’ve bought it for. And if they don’t realise that they sure will at some stage – at which point they’ll chalk it up to experience having only spent/wasted $30.

      If you mislead clients you’ll get your come-uppence in the end, I’m sure. But if you offer a premium service for a premium price you’ll be OK!

      Good to see you here again, Paul, thanks for the comment. :)

  5. says

    Hi Rob

    I agree that approaching an expert directly often can net (pardon the pun) a most gratifying result. I contacted an expert directly once and it led to a very pleasing – to me – exchange during which I learned a great deal.

    The expert’s name is Rob Cubbon. I’d been reading his blog for yonks and found 95% of his material was directly relatable (now I’m making up words!) to my interests. After saving lots of his articles in my Internet Favourites folder, where they took pride-of-place, I decided to ‘take the plunge’ and email him. What a nice guy! He answered my email; I was chuffed! He answered my questions, set me straight on quite a few points and always gave me good advice. I have followed him reverentially ever since.

    Yep, contacting an expert directly can lead to a positive outcome. Not all experts will respond to you first time and there’s a fine line between being eager and enthusiastic and an inadvertent nuisance or, worse, stalker. However, I would recommend to any of your readers they take your advice to contact an expert direct. It certainly helped me and I’m very grateful.

    Cheers from your dedicated fan Caitlin in South-East Queensland, Australia

    • says

      Well, Caitlin, what can I say? The fact that I have one fan from South-East Queensland, Australia does not make me a real expert. But, I guess I’m trying to say that anyone can be an expert!

      I always reply to every email I’ve received that is to me personally (ie. not spam!) And I don’t envisage a time when I will not do this. As I have read a lot of helpful articles and have received help, I am happy to offer help to anyone that wants it.

      I am also very grateful, for your comment. :)