I’ve just been reading about Linda Claire Puig’s travels in Italy. Her expertise is in using newsletters to grow your business, and one of her dreams was to live and work in Italy – so that’s what she did for five months. And as she lived the experience of running her business abroad, she wrote about it in her blog “abroadwithherbusiness”. Unfortunately, the blog is no longer live.
Similarly, my friends Hannah Vallance and Chris Alford, who are seasoned location-independent business owners, blog about their experiences of taking their business on the road at www.loveplaywork.com.
The reason I mention these two blogs (apart from the fact that I’d like to be travelling with my own business) is because they are examples of different ways of presenting your expertise. Let me explain…
3 Ways to Share your Expertise
John Childers, who ran speaker training in the USA, once said that there are three ways in which you can help your clients by presenting your expertise:
- As a guru – in other words, someone who has been there, done that, and not only has dozens of T-shirts, but has probably franchised the shop and is making an additional income by employing people to sell T-shirts on their behalf. So this person is way ahead of you as far as experience is concerned, and it can sometimes feel rather daunting trying to match up to them.
- As a teacher – this is someone who has been there and done that, and might have bought the T-shirt – or possibly several – so they’re a couple of steps ahead of you, at least, and they know what they’re doing. But they probably
haven’t been doing it for all that long, so they still know what it feels like to be in the before stage and, as a result, their advice can feel more accessible.
- As a student – this is someone who is going there and doing that right now, and they haven’t even saved up for the T-shirt yet – so they’re living the change in real time, and are probably blogging about the mistakes they’re making along the way. This can often be the person who inspires you most – they’re only a gnat’s breath ahead of you, so what they’re sharing feels more do-able.
Teach from Where You Are
The mistake we sometimes make is in thinking that we have to be “the guru” before we can show up and teach others how to do things differently. But that’s just not true. Time and time again, I hear gurus, teachers and students alike say “you might think everyone knows how to do what you’re doing – but they don’t!” And even if you only know a couple of things they don’t, it’s still valid – you can still HELP someone to move forward in their own business or life. In fact, to withold that help is tantamount to being selfish.
For years, I made this mistake myself. I believed that, before I could help others, I needed to have been there, done that and at least got one T-shirt that had “I’m a huge success” emblazoned all over the front of it. The mistake I made is that people can learn just as much from your screw-ups as they can from your successes. And let’s face it: most of us have an abundance of screw-ups we can share!!
The fact is, the best way you can help others is by being yourself. It might sound simple. It might even sound obvious – but it’s sometimes the hardest thing to do. It means you have to be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be honest about not being perfect, even though everyone knows you’re not anyway, because nobody is perfect.
There is often humour in disaster, in a way that is sometimes absent in success. I wonder why that is?! Perhaps it’s our ability to laugh at our mistakes that makes us human. Whatever it is, it’s a good feeling to know that disaster isn’t as bad as it might at first seem. Laughter does make events memorable. It also has a healing power – and it’s a good way to learn, too.
So what can you share with someone today, this week, this month, that will help them along their own journey? Whatever it is, please do it. Do it with humour and humility, and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answers to everything. I certainly don’t!
About the author Julia Barnickle is a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and the founder of The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business. She offers visibility coaching to raise your online profile, and helps you create videos to promote and deliver your services.