How to tell a Fake from an Expert

In the business world in which we work, we often meet people who consider themselves to be “experts in their field”. Now if you know the field in which they claim expertise, then you are very able to ascertain whether they are genuine.

But if you have no idea, or are seeking guidance in a field you are unacquainted with or less skilled in; how can you tell genuine experts from potential fakes?

So imagine you are having a meeting with an average executive claiming to be an expert? How can you tell if what he’s proclaiming is accurate, or even close to resembling what the industry considers to be “expert level”.  For example, there are many in the Internet Industry that work for 2 years and proclaim themselves as an “expert”?  With our lack of expertise on other fields, we sometimes find ourselves consulting other experts, acquiring their services. And when we do, we should ask ourselves: Is he really an expert or is he just full of BS?

Here’s a list of important notes gleaned from the experiences of experts on sizing up experts.

1. Experts focus on their field of expertise, not on themselves.

You can tell right away. If the person you’re talking to seems to be a major star in every story he tells, then maybe not so much an expert more of an expert self promoter. Experts don’t talk about themselves. They talk about their fields and subjects of interest. Sometimes, it can’t be helped if they talk about their professional experiences to illustrate points. But you will notice that real experts always bring the focus to their field of expertise and how they can help you, and not their own lives.

2. Experts welcome competition.

Experts don’t avoid criticism in their works. They welcome different ideas because they engage them. Supporting their work with hard data and facts gleaned from their professional experiences and debunking opposing theories is what they live for.

3. Experts don’t claim to be an expert in everything.

Experts are not ashamed to admit their lack of knowledge or even ignorance about other fields. If they don’t know the answer to your question, if it’s not within their professional expertise, they will tell you right away that they can’t answer or they don’t know the answer. They will then point you in the right direction and give you the appropriate resources so you can get your answers Doctors do this the all the time with referrals to specialists consultants.

4. Experts are up-to-date.

Experts can’t help it but be curious. Their curiosity and keen interest on related subjects keeps them up-to-date on industry trends and changes; they feel obligated to be on top of their games. This is the reason why some experts, even pay their way to conferences just to stay in touch with what’s current. Just ask them what books they are currently reading or what was the last Industry event they attended .

5. Experts share.

Experts can’t help it but share their knowledge. They are confident that the industry needs their knowledge, that their expertise is needed to support the industry. They feel confident of their knowledge and constantly inspire other experts to use their work as a reference.  Real experts can’t help but teach. Although teaching is an expertise in itself, and many experts are not talented at teaching, you can notice right away that when talking to an expert, he or she seems to be teaching you, making you understand his field.

Bonus tip #6; Be wary of those who don’t want to share without you paying them first.