You can become an expert at just about anything you like. Whether its sports, geography, or wine all you need to do is apply yourself. The following is an outline you can use to groom yourself to become an expert.
Understand that the term "expert" is relative. To illustrate this let's say that an absolute beginner is at level 1. They have an interest and passing knowledge of the subject. On the other end of the spectrum is The Professor at level 10. Often a level 1 cannot learn much from a level 10 expert because of the knowledge gap. They need to speak with a level 3 expert in order for it to make sense.
At the same time the level 3 expert is listening to the level 8 expert who listens to The Professor at level 10. The point being that you can position yourself as an expert to the guy that's just starting out even if you haven't made it to level 10 yet. They will respect you as an expert compared to themselves.
With that let's dive in and see how we can take you to the next level.
(Photograph by: Ed Yourdon)
What it Takes to Become an Expert
This is a prerequisite to becoming an expert. You must have passion for the subject you are looking to dominate. If you don't have passion you won't be able to stomach the rest of what it takes.
You must invest time into yourself and your subject to become an expert. Would you consider someone an expert car mechanic after spent a month reading about it and playing with their own car? No.
Learning a new subject is exciting at first. Then it gets frustrating. The frustration begins just after you've started to scratch the surface of your new subject. You understand the basics and its time to dig into the more complex levels of understanding.
Being persistent through these frustrating times is critical. Most people quit just when it starts to get difficult. If you've struggled with this before or you just want to be ready when it happens check out Seth Godin's The Dip.
3. Money (Optional)
That's right! You don't have to spend a lot of money to become an expert. While investing some cash in classes or training programs can accelerate your ascent to becoming an expert there are plenty of free materials out there you can study as well.
How to Do It
1. Read 3 Books
Get over to your local library and check out three books on your subject. Yes, the library, that place that's like Barnes and Noble but you don't have to pay for the books. Remember? Bring your Kindle too as many libraries can loan e-books.
2. Subscribe to a Podcast
Search for your subject in iTunes and scroll down toward the bottom of the results page to see the podcasts related to your subject. Click on "see all" to get a better idea of what's available.
Don't worry about whether or not the podcast is still in production. Even if they've quit recording new episodes it doesn't mean the information is no longer applicable.
Listen to a few to and then dive into the ones you enjoy listening to. Listen on your way to and from work, at work if you can, and/or when exercising.
3. Subscribe to an Email List or Blog Feed
Find someone who is currently writing on your topic and subscribe to their email list or RSS feed. This is a great way to have information pumped right into your inbox where you can read the latest content whenever you like.
4. Find an Expert You Can Talk To
This takes a little courage but its well worth it. Reach out to other experts and see if you can spend thirty minutes or so talking to them. Make sure you've prepared plenty of questions to ask ahead of time.
Try reaching out to authors, college professors, podcasters, and bloggers. Many would be happy to spend a few minutes sharing their passion with you.
5. Attend a Conference
Conferences are great avenues for learning and meeting other experts. Conferences usually aren't free but the investment can be well worth it. Not only because of the information presented but also because you'll be there with hundreds or even thousands of other people with the same interest you have. These are awesome networking opportunities.
6. Take a Class
Many cities and local colleges offer classes to the public on a variety of topics. Look into what's being offered in your area. This is another way to network with experts and other people interested in the same thing.
The most important part of becoming an expert is to teach what you have learned to other people! This is critical for several reasons.
Teaching other people forces you to simplify the material into a succinct and easy to understand concepts. This cements the concepts in your own mind. It also puts you in front of others who will see you as a resource. You can do this by starting a blog, a meet-up group, or just getting together with interested friends.
If that wasn't enough Napoleon Hill summed it up best when he said "It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed."