From the Trenches

Transparency and Experts

Will Davis | April 30, 2009

There’s never been an easier time to be an expert. Just about any piece of information you could ever want is available through an Internet connection, a browser and just a few clicks. You can quickly set up a blog, a small website, and a LinkedIn profile and you too can look like an expert. I’m surprised there isn’t an expert kit yet that includes these elements in nicely designed box. You can even take it to the next level and respond in all sorts of LinkedIn Answers. Maybe this makes you really look like an expert.

So what’s to keep everyone from running around as self-proclaimed experts? I had a conversation with a few colleagues last week and we all agreed it is the transparency the web provides. While it’s become easier than ever to become an expert, it’s also become easier than ever to realize when the Emperor’s New Clothes aren’t quite right. When the “Social Media Expert” has a blog hat hasn’t been touched in a year, isn’t on Twitter and can’t point you to clear success stories; When the agency that “specializes in online advertising” goes blank when you ask about ad servers; or when the web design shop that “specializes in user experience” has a 2 minute flash intro on the front of their website. These are just a few examples most of us have seen before.

In the discussion, one of my colleagues mentioned how he explained to his family why he posts certain things on Twitter – despite being longtime business owners they didn’t understand why he would share those aspects of his business successes and challenges. His answer was simple: if I’m transparent I never have to remember which version of a story I told some people and which version I told others. In his case, he is a true expert and that expertise combined with the transparency that validates it has led him to business success.


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