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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.