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Find the Right Expert - 3 Things to Look for

Find the Right Expert - 3 Things to Look for

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In my last post, I discussed the difficulties in finding an expert. I presented some of the differences in the context of the word ‘expert’. The word means something different depending on your perspective and needs.

I concluded that I thought the term mastery, gave the proper definition of a true expert. You likely want a knowledge master working on your next case.

So, how do you find experts with knowledge mastery?

I thought I would propose three things to look for to help you:

  1. Your expert publishes and stays current on the subject matter.
    They should continue to publish papers which demonstrates they continue to contribute to the science. They should keep current on the science by continuing to read papers and research the topic. It is tough to publish papers and it is very time consuming. Scientific papers are not absolutely necessary but certainly help you, as the person looking for an expert, find people that are staying current. I stay current by having research alerts that let me know when something new is published. Every week, I get a list of articles sent to my inbox that I peruse. If they look good, I order them and read them. That is my way of staying current.
    • Caution: one co-authored paper, is not enough. You need to make sure they continue to stay current and contributed thought and ideas to that paper.
  1. Your expert should teach and lecture on the subject matter.
    If they are speaking on the subject matter, especially teaching, then they probably have extensive knowledge on that material. The quote by Richard Feynman is very true “If you want to master something, teach it.”
    • Caution: Teaching fundamentals and teaching specifics can offer very different levels of expertise. Just because someone teaches environmental chemistry does not make them experts in polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They may have knowledge of both, but do they have mastery of both?
  1. Your expert should be able to discuss the topic at ease with you.
    They should be able to explain concepts, issues, ideas on the subject matter without indecision. This is because of points 1 and 2 above. They are masters in the knowledge, so, they can discuss the topic effortlessly. This follows the quote from Albert Einstein “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”.   They should be able to communicate very clearly and easily on the subject matter.
    • Caution: Nothing to caution here. You should be able to sense a BS’er. Get your BS detector system (BDS) on.   This is more of a gut feel on your expert. Are they able to explain something off the top of their head and in simple enough terms to you? Did they make you understand something that maybe previously, you didn’t? All because you talked with them. That could be your next expert.

I have a relatively small niche area of expertise that I consider myself a knowledge master. I can work as an expert in many other/related areas. It is these small, niche areas of expertise where I am strongest and most at ease when working and testifying. It is not only my sandbox, but my comfort zone. In my comfort zone, I am very confident. When I am confident, I am very passionate and convincing.

Your goal in finding the best expert for your case, is to find the knowledge masters in those areas. That will give you the best success on your case. Good luck with your expert hunt!

Please pass along your questions and ideas on this post..

What do you look for when identifying your
best choices for experts?






About the Author

Court Sandau

Court is the President and owner of Chemistry Matters – a niche environmental consulting firm which specializes in geoforensics, environmental forensics, biomonitoring, and arson investigations. As an international speaker and expert chemist, Court is often called upon to provide his expert services in oil & gas investigations and litigious chemistry issues.

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