You aren’t simply an expert


Picture of the inventor of Bluetooth

Nominee for the European Inventor Award 2012: Dr. Jaap Haartsen © European Patent Organisation 2012. All rights reserved.

This is a picture of Dr. Jaap Haartsen. He is the guy you can thank for Bluetooth devices. Do you recognize him? What about his name?

He did something amazing. Now, if Jaap Haartsen stopped you at work to tell you how to sync your FitBit, would you listen to him? Probably not, unless he mentioned he developed the technology.

It’s the same with most interactions. If you want to be credible, you have to build credibility. We’re in a time where we encourage people to question everything. Simply stating a fact doesn’t make you right.

I belong a professional group where people ask questions and the community provides feedback and opinions. It’s great, until it isn’t. Every once in a while someone makes a bold statement and someone else boldly disagrees. Everyone gets a bit stroppy until it is revealed that one of the commentators is THE undisputed expert on the topic. People say things like, “Every time EXPERT says something people try to explain how she is wrong.”

While part of me is glad I’m not the one getting into the fight, I also think both sides have failed at explaining their credibility. If you are an expert, and you want to share information related to your expertise, you have let people know you aren’t just talking. A boldly asserted assertion is just a bunch of words unless we know we can trust you.

If someone at the mall told you they were an investment advisor and wanted to help with your money, you would be wise to check their credentials. Why should any other new interaction be different.

Credibility helps people trust you and know they are in good hands. Make it easy for your audience. Without being arrogant, let them know what your opinion is based on. If you hold a higher level of expertise, share that.

I’m not a fan of slapping credentials on the table like playing cards, but don’t keep them a secret.