Much has changed in the last 10 years because of technology and the internet. I can’t remember the last time I went to the library. It’s not that I don’t love the library and enjoy reading, but I have access to more information on my laptop via the web than apparently can be counted.
I can’t recall what life was like before the cell phone. In fact, I can hardly even remember what life was like before multiple cell phones in my household. My wife and I went into the same store on Sunday and, as I wandered off to the electronics section (I do like stuff with batteries), somewhere in the back of my mind I didn’t worry about getting disconnected because I knew she would call me when she was done.
Then it hit me – she didn’t have her cell phone with her! I tried to remain calm, but it took me three minutes of wandering around the store before I could find her! Yes – three whole minutes! But I was brave and didn’t panic. I methodically walked up and down the entire known universe (well, Target, actually) till I found her.
But one thing hasn’t changed. Humans are hard-wired to trust experts (Cialdini’s Principle #5). No matter how hard we try, there is something inside us that makes us want to know what the experts think. Cable News exists because of this phenomenon. We know that we don’t know that much about “X”, but we want to have an informed opinion, so we seek out an expert.
Now, every one of us in an expert in our own experience, and we may be the best at what we do, but how will other people know we are the expert? In the old days (ten years ago), a degree (or three) and a prestigious position at a major institution made one an expert. But in the 21st Century, search engines like Google and Yahoo define who the expert is and they are working hard to make the definition accurate.
Now before you start to marshall your counter-argument about how your education and experience make you the expert, tell me what you do when you don’t know something or can’t recall something you once knew. You “Google It.” And you rarely go beyond the first page of results, so the search engines define the experts because they tell us who is saying the most important things in the known universe about any given topic.
To evaluate your “expert status”, try this little experiment – Google your name. If the first 10 results aren’t your blog, your twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and links to articles you have written about your area of expertise, you are missing out on a major branding/marketing opportunity. And that’s a shame because people are looking for experts.