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Experts are a dime a dozen but authorities are priceless

I’m coaching a group of solopreneurs through the Book Yourself Solid system and we’re currently working on the section “Who Knows What You Know And Do They Like You?“, about building trust and credibility with potential clients.

One of the questions that Michael Port asks in his book is “In what areas are you currently an expert?

The word “expert” often brings up lots of energy (usually negative) because of the association between expertise and knowledge. But is there a real connection between expertise and education?

When I was an engineering officer in the Canadian Air Force, I had advanced degrees in my field. I could design lens arrays and calculate resolution errors. I could program image recognition algorithms and write the specifications for a video processing system. But when it came to troubleshooting and fixing the complex equipment in the lab or on our aircraft, I could not hold a candle to my technicians. I swear, just by looking at the gadget and shaking it a bit, they could figure out what was wrong and get it working again in a snap, whether the problem was mechanical, electrical or electronic.

I could design the equipment, but they knew how to build it, get it to work and keep it going in tip-top shape through punishing use. Which skill set was the most useful to our lab’s clients?

My gut reaction when someone claims to be an “expert” is to say “oh yeah? Prove it! Show me your papers!” I bet your prospects feel the same way, because they are bombarded by so many who claim to be experts. Then your prospect starts playing the credential game with you. Yuck.

I don’t want clients who doubt my experience. And the way to do this is to shift the energy by moving from being just another expert to being an authority

Here’s one of my Davenderisms:

“An expert is someone who has mastered a lot of knowledge. An authority has the bruises and scars that prove the knowledge really works.”

In my lab, I was an expert because of my education, but our clients (and I) trusted the technicians even more because they had authority based on their ability to create results. I was necessary to the operation of the lab, but they were indispensable.

And with my current entrepreneurial coaching business, I can state that I am an authority on being a solo professional and a startup entrepreneur because I lived the startup and cratering of two businesses (one solo practice and one larger tech business) before realizing that I had to ignore conventional wisdom in order to succeed in building a successful network marketing biz and now my current coaching and training biz.

Of course I’ve taken the courses and the trainings and got my qualifications, but when I relate my personal story, I can see my prospect is much more impressed with my real-life experience as compared to my qualifications.

Show your prospects how you have lived your expertise. Then they will follow you to the ends of the earth…

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