How Much Is Your Expertise Worth?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015, by Eliane Karsaklian

trust me now

You’ve been studying and working for several years, enhancing your specific skills and experiencing field challenges. You are an expert.

But as you keep working in the same domain, you realize that people who don’t have the same expertise as you often ‘sell’ themselves as experts as well. And they take market share, and they take available clients, and sometimes they even take your clients.

If you are a consultant, you know very well what I am talking about.

Last week I accepted someone’s invitation to explore ways of collaboration between us. She’s specialized in translation. We could, indeed, have found some common interest until she told me that she had bought my books because she was asked to conduct a training in international negotiation and she didn’t know much about the subject. Somehow surprised, I asked her about her own experience as a negotiator and her legitimacy as a trainer in international negotiation. She admitted that she doesn’t actually have any experience. The closest she had been to international negotiation was translating some files for some of her clients who were undertaking international negotiation.

Almost speechless, I asked her if it wouldn’t be better (not to say more honest) to admit that she had no experience with the topic and refer someone who had proven expertise in international negotiation? Her answer? “Oh, I wouldn’t miss this opportunity and your book is so well written and detailed that I can build a training program just based on it.”

Was I supposed to feel flattered? What type of collaboration is this supposed to be? She proudly handed me her flyer where she just jots down 15 areas of expertise, including leadership, international negotiation, mergers and acquisitions… which are extremely technical areas and have nothing to do with translation. I was shocked.
Was that my first time facing this type of situation? Certainly not, and I would be you have faced something similar too. Now, why does this happen?

People in companies responsible for outsourcing expertise often have no idea of what they are buying. They will look at the cheapest price and go with that ‘expert’. In addition, “negotiation”, “international negotiation”, “leadership”, just to name a few words, are ‘trendy’ fields today. As a result, ‘experts’ in these areas are flourishing.

There is no negotiation with this type of person. There is no way of preventing such proliferation either. All we can do is be innovative experts. While these other people are trying to get to know what experts have been knowing and practicing for a long time, real experts are getting more and more experienced, developing new tools and building extensive knowledge. Real experts should only accept real experts as part of their networks. Our job is to prove the added value only real experts can provide companies to ensure promising outcomes. Real experts refuse to endorse with deal breakers.

To know more, read:

The Intelligent International Negotiator – BEP – 2014
From Foreign to International – Lessons from a Citizen of the World – Ubi&Orbi – 2015.