How To Become an 'Expert' In An HourBy: John Honovich, Published on Sep 02, 2016
If you want to be perceived as an expert in your market, speak at every event possible... the math is simple: when someone stands in front of an audience in an official capacity and speaks on a subject, they become an expert.
So says security sales consultant Chris Peterson [link no longer available].
There is both truth and sadness to that.
That perception can be a hoax, as Peterson admits about a conference he attended:
On stage, he was a genius. One-on-one, his knowledge seemed to have no depth or flexibility.
There are two issues here.
Exuding Confidence Simulates Expertise
Most people respond positively to speaker confidence. If a speaker is enthusiastic and optimistic, most will assume the speaker knows what they are doing especially if the topic is outside their own expertise.
Take Steve Russell [link no longer available], former CEO of (the now failed 3VR), now of Prism; Two companies that have raised tens of millions in VC funding yet struggle to be serious players in the market.
Russell is a world class presenter / speaker. He is brilliant at it. That is great at getting people excited. And it works great on stage. The problem is so much of that is wishful thinking and technology mishmash that sounds good but is not viable.
By contrast, an engineer who is uncomfortable presenting or cautious because they understand the complexity involved may come off as not knowing that much even though s/he knows far more than the 'expert'.
Stage Limits Exposure of False Experts
The other big issue, or more precisely benefit of doing presentations on stage, is that there are typically very little questions, generally at the end and easy to dance around.
Peterson exposed his expert on an elevator (the anti-elevator pitch I suppose) but that requires one-on-one with someone willing to push deeper. That type of exchange rarely happens at an event and is great for an 'expert', especially since so many events are built around helping their 'experts' sell.
Events Worth Limits
Events can have some value but with limits. In the security space, the total number of attendees for a presentation tend to be small - 50 is solid, 100 is great. With tens of thousands of people in the industry, it is a long and expensive road to reach even a small portion of industry people. On the other hand, if you have an expensive enough product or service that even one of those attendees might buy, speaking at an event might be worth it for that, perceived 'expert' or not.
Finally, I agree with Peterson's general recommendation that professionals should strive to be recognized as experts. That 'brand' building is an important in an increasingly competitive market. It would be great though if experts proved their expertise, not simply created its 'perception'.
Postscript: Real Expert Approach
Michael Silva, security consultant, is a good example of a real expert who does well marketing his expertise responsibly and accurately. Besides authoring his own book on becoming a security consultant (which signals expertise), when he posts on IPVM, he posts with great insight and showing significant direct experience. A few examples:
- Silva on how end user buying behavior has changed in the past 15 years
- Silva on alarm failure liability limits
- Silva on designing voice warning for approaching alarmed exit doors
Moreover, because IPVM lets members comment and discuss, he puts himself in the cross-fire that would expose puffery or mistakes. Yet Silva true expertise shows. Try to be like him.