How do you define an “expert”? For some, it may mean holding the highest degree, while others may consider someone an expert only after years of rigorous study and real-world experience. The qualifications for an expert may even vary depending on the industry – being an expert in the medical field, for example, will require different milestones and knowledge than an expert HVAC technician.
Some people speculate that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master something, but the truth is that expertise varies by trade, subject and individual. If you want to become an expert in your industry, consider these three steps that will help you further your education, expand your mind and help you build valuable connections.
Connect with Industry Leaders
You can find many of your industry’s leading professionals on LinkedIn. View their connections, read their posts and follow any of their social media profiles and blogs.
There are also many networking associations for a wide range of fields, such as Business Network International and the Internet Marketing Association.
Find ways to connect with professionals in your industry to begin building a strong contact network. The more people you know, the more credible and established you’ll become.
Further Your Education
Earn a master’s or doctorate degree, attend seminars and read academic journals. Purchase the most popular books on your subject of interest, and study them closely. There are also plenty of blogs and free web content that can help you further your education and become deeply entrenched in your particular field of interest, including sites like Industry Analysts Inc.
Choosing a specialization can also help you on your path toward mastery. If your industry is psychology, consider selecting a concentration such as cognitive behavioral therapy or educational psychology.
Find a Mentor
If you’re just starting out, a mentor can help you gain valuable experience and advance in your industry. Forbes senior contributor Kathy Caprino says you should never ask a stranger to be your mentor. Instead, she implores job-hunters and entrepreneurs to follow people’s work, be proactive and strive to make valuable connections in your industry.
You will never wake up and magically be an expert in your field. Rather than viewing expertise as your final destination, consider it a journey. Each day, strive to work a bit harder than you did the day before. Learn one new thing, and find a way to apply it to your career. Over time, you’ll realize that mastery is a state of mind, not a set of milestones or list of achievements.