Everyone is an expert at something. Sharing your knowledge with someone that results in a favorable outcome is a beautiful act. It provides a person with the feeling of being useful, needed, and having a purpose.
Before we talk about expertise and how to identify it, we’ve gotta talk payment. Sirens are going off in people’s heads… Slow down Rivedal—it’s impolite to talk about money. Word. Sometimes it is. But getting payment doesn’t always mean the exchange of money.
Mentorship or charity: Sometimes sharing your knowledge and giving back is payment enough. The euphoric feeling you get from passing along your expertise to benefit a charitable organization or the next generation of movers and shakers.
Bartering: Also an effective tool, one that I have used in the past to create a win-win situation. I need X work done. He needs Y but can’t afford Y, so he offers to work on X for me so he can afford Y.
Moolah: And of course, there’s always getting paid with actual currency. There might be a few slight hurdles to this like learning some business skills and learning about the people who need what you have to offer (i.e. your “target market”)—but Rome wasn’t built in a day. The first hurdle is always a small one and that involves some simple research on Google.
You might be saying, “But I’m not an expert at anything…”
Bullius Shitius—yes you are.
Your expertise doesn’t have to intersect with millions of people but maybe it can impact a few hundred. One quick analogy to illustrate the need for specialty: the rise of specialists within the medical industry versus doctors who are general practitioners.
Don’t think you’re an expert? Is there something people are constantly running to you for advice? Computers, sex, breast feeding, human genome mapping…
Recently I’ve come across patient activists in the health care industry. These particular people have a rare or rarely talked about health condition. And then they start blogs and discussion groups about their condition. It’s always about helping their community. Sometimes they will mentor other people with their condition one on one. Sometimes the person will write a book and/or create a career out of their knowledge within this niche field.
One more note about specialty and expertise. I did a Google search for a few random things that popped into my head—things that I thought might require a specialist. Each of three following examples netted results that did indeed have specialists that had received payment through a) giving back through charity or mentorship, b) bartering (or at least what appeared to be so), c) a person developing a part time or full time career based on the random niche that I Googled.
- Navigating the Affordable Care Act in New York State
- Transgender women training bras
- Tuning old church pianos
Go through your mental archives. List a few of the things people have asked you advice for recently or places you’ve volunteered for in the recent past. Write ‘em down. Offer yourself and your skills up. Volunteering and bartering are easier places to start before offering your expertise in exchange for money.
A quick note about money: If money is something you want or need in the near or distant future, see what other folks are charging for the same or something similar. At the start you’re probably not going to make what they’re making because you’re the new kid on the block. But if you test your pricing (hey, would you be willing to pay X for this?) and someone is willing to pay for it, then your test continues. If someone is willing to pay (X), then will they pay for (X+Y)? The operative thought process here is: you are providing a solution to a person’s problem, which always supersedes your need for money, and informs the price you charge (can I charge this and if so, will it allow for maximum impact for the person I’m helping).
Oh and while searching for your expertise if it’s not already apparent: cut yourself some slack. That negative boogie monster in the back of your neck (the amygdala, the friendly but finicky fella who protects us from danger) might tell you you’re not good enough. Thank that boogie monster for doing their job but let them know that you’re in no danger and they can let their guard down. You’re a badass mo-fo who has a lot to offer to the world. Please do share.