Consider your workplace and the people you work alongside. Thinking now of your co-workers, you likely view some of those people as having grown a reputation as being a specialist in some area of their work. Perhaps you count yourself among them. How does a person become a specialist, an expert or recognized authority?
For many, it’s a case of knowing exactly what they want and signing up for specialized training beyond what they and their co-workers normally receive. This training results in the person obtaining formal certification; recognition of their academic expertise.
However, there are a vast number of people who have developed experiential expertise; expertise accumulated from extensive exposure with a certain population, topic or interest. So these people find themselves being sought out for consultation by others, regarded as an authority on a subject, and become the go-to people. The interesting thing is that they themselves may not have planned to be regarded as an expert; they may be initially surprised that others keep coming to them, but then it dawns on them that they have in fact a knack for whatever it is, or whomever it is that they excel with.
Hence you could have a Financial Consultant working in a large organization; providing investment advice be regarded as the right person to refer certain clients to over others. You have speakers in an organization get the nod over their peers depending on a group or topic; pegged as the right person to connect with that population.
So are you a specialist in your organization in some regard? You may have the same title as your peers, the same salary; but are you regarded as having a particularly well-developed skill in some area over your peers?
The advantage (and there are advantages) in being regarded as an authority or having a particularly well-developed skill set in some area, is that you become more valuable to both your organization, your customers or clients, and to your fellow employees. So if your co-workers are challenged with a client and you have high success rates in dealing with clients like them, they may come to you and draw upon your experience. You may excel more often when it comes to dealing successfully with those who present with similar challenges.
Sometimes, you can keep your ears and eyes open and identify opportunities to seize on where your peers universally dislike or avoid aspects of their work. They may be more than willing to pass on what they perceive as difficult or undesirable clients who share common attributes, even taking two or yours to divest themselves of the unwanted one. In such a case, you could gain a reputation as handling well what others see as difficult, and you’ll be appreciated for it.
Suddenly you could find yourself being the one who gets the nod when it comes to attending courses, seminars and going to conferences that provide additional learning opportunities for dealing with hard-to-serve populations. Then after attending a few of these, not only do people in your organization see you as an authority, but employees from other organizations at those events start to regard you the same way. You may wake up one day and suddenly realize that without really planning it, you’ve morphed into a specialist.
What might then occur to you is that because you have developed a knack for working with a certain population, you find yourself wanting some further formal education to obtain some academic accreditation. This opens up the idea of night school or taking a leave from your workplace. If you look into it, you might even find that your employer is willing to pay for all or part of your educational development as they would get a higher return on their investment upon your return to the workplace.
For many this is how they evolve, stay fresh and grow. If you sat down and had a conversation with these people, they might tell you that they never really set out to become a specialist; it kind of snuck up on them and took them by surprise.
The wonderful thing about this entire process is the personal growth that occurs. The more you are identified as a leading authority or have some unique insight, the more likely it is that you will discover opportunities which you previously didn’t know existed. Hence, you could compete in the future for a position you wouldn’t have thought possible or perhaps even known existed. The other possibility is that your organization might actually create a position around you which only is being created to both recognize and take advantage of your well-developed expertise.
If we take this idea even further, it may turn out that you wake up one day and wonder if you aren’t in a position to actually break away from the organization you are employed with and set up your own entrepreneurial business. Your expertise might be in such demand that running your own business is in the cards.
Have a look around the organization you work for and see if there are opportunities to seize upon. Based on your present skills, interests and those of your peers, are there areas in which someone could capitalize upon and with a little effort be the go-to person, the expert, the specialist? Perhaps that person could be you!