Treating yourself like an expert

You’ve done it. You’ve amassed some notability in your field. People are starting to recognize you as the go-to person. They call you to speak at their events. There are offers to “collaborate”. Your brain begins to get picked. Some of these folks are respectful and understand that your expertise adds value for which they are willing to pay. What about those who don’t recognize that fact?

Fully aware of the irony I emailed a gentleman for whom I have great respect, Bob Burg. I say it’s ironic because I was asking him to GIVE me advice on how to move from GIVING away expertise to charging like an expert. He gave me some great stuff. This post is how I interpreted our conversation.

What was really eye opening is he said “You haven’t seen anything yet. The more you grow as an expert in your field, the more people will ask you to do things for them.” Bob then shared about a post our friend, Chris Brogan recently wrote entitled “But Enough About Me”. In it Chris writes about the numerous requests he gets to promote others. It’s an entertaining read (for those that experience it at least) and a gentle reminder.

There is truth in that one of the fastest ways to “rockstar” status is to “Ride on other’s coattails.” But there are better ways to do this, right? How about being great at what you do and sharing what the people you emulate do? If you do that enough (and it’s so much easier with Twitter and Facebook) they’re bound to take notice of you. And if you have put enough of your own well-thought out expertise “out there”, maybe they’ll engage in conversation with you. Imagine if a Chris Brogan or a Bob Burg retweeted you. Now that’s powerful!

The real key to helping others while treating yourself like an expert is “setting limits in a tactful way”. Bob is one of the kindest communicators I know. He makes sure the people with whom he is speaking know that he cares. He does so by edifying them. He uses words like “thank you.” He asks thoughtful questions. He is also comfortable helping when he can and saying “no” when he has to. In this video, Bob shares “How to say “no” the right way”. It’s awesome advice! HERE is the written version on the same topic.

A couple of other tips I gathered in our conversation:

  • Take time to chat over the phone. Most issues don’t require a “coffee meeting”.
  • Use email as a way to clarify discussion points
  • Be nice
  • If you gather enough information you can decide how you want to work with the individual moving forward. And it’s okay to do so “gratis” if you decide to do so

Toward the end of our talk we touched on self worth which is a big issue for me. I have a hard time “pricing” my services as a result of this. In Bob Burg style he said “We all go through this at first”. It’s nice to know there is a group of people that I admire who have had the same challenges and conquered them.

The last piece we discussed was probably the most telling…”Most people don’t know they’re crossing the line. They aren’t trying to take advantage of you”. I believe that’s true. Most don’t. My comment to him was that I know I’ve put it out to the collective consciousness that I am here to help. Now I have to edit my thoughts to the Universe to include the phrase “for a fee”.

Of course, as Bob says, “there’s a time and place for everything” including, at times, providing information without charging for it. But, as he also says, “It needs to be done out of strength; not weakness.”

As I’m about to hit “publish” this thought occurred to me: Others won’t fully treat you like an expert until you treat yourself as one.

You can learn more about Bob Burg on his website and take a look at Chris Brogan at You can find them on twitter and facebook as well. Both of these men are true inspirations to me and many. Thanks fellas!