Have you ever had one of those moments when you had a realization about something as you were talking about it? To me it feels like tumblers in the lock of my head suddenly all click into place and there it is: a new idea. I love those moments. In fact, one happened just last week. And, while it occurred as I was poking around on that new “social audio” app, Clubhouse, that sudden insight applies much more broadly to experts and expertise translators like you.
So stick with me for a bit.
The context: I was poking around the app when I spotted a “room.” In it were (a) a few people I knew and respected and (b) the topic was more interesting than some of the usual “live your best life” or “make bajillions by breakfast” ones.
It was a discussion about the value to speakers and other experts of speaking on Clubhouse (as in being a contributor to a discussion, a moderator, or host, etc.). My friend Laura Belgray, the amazingly talented writer and copywriting coach, pulled me up onto the virtual panel, where I was mostly quiet, listening.
Our chat moved into a common concern I’ve heard among experts and others about Clubhouse, but really about almost any social platform: How could you balance the potential value of the platform with the inevitable time suck of being there? Because don’t get me wrong: like any social platform, Clubhouse is engineered to keep you on the platform. You see people you know talking about things you’re interested in, and then bam! It’s hours later.
The rationalization for spending hours on new platforms like these falls into two big areas:
(1) Sharing knowledge. It’s the early days of Clubhouse, and as such (like in the early days of Twitter), early movers can gain big advantages in terms of gaining audience, building awareness etc. That’s obviously important if you’re an expert: you often need both audience and awareness to get you and your ideas out into the world. I get it.
(2) Gaining knowledge. The second rationalization—also valid—is that right now, at least, Clubhouse is a great place to get a sense of what people care about right now. You can talk to fellow experts in your field, you can listen in on groups of people that represent your audience, you can join conversations about fields that relate to your own. This was Robbe Richman’s great point on the panel I was on the other day—that and the fear of missing out on something that’s happening right now is what is both so alluring and so addictive.
But that’s when I realized there’s a third dimension of expertise that, by and large, Clubhouse is crap at:
(3) Creating knowledge. Generating new ideas based on the information you’ve gained. Creation requires forethought (or at least, good creation does!). It takes time to sit down and write a post or white paper like this, or a book, or a keynote. It takes time to do the research to see what else is out there, find the gap, and fill it in with your own, new thing. It’s what Ph.D.’s and other academic researchers do. And academic scientists. But it isn’t only academics that can create knowledge. Any expert can—often thanks to new platforms.
Clubhouse just doesn’t happen to be conducive to creating knowledge. That doesn’t invalidate, but it can help you decide if and how much time you choose to spend there (or on any platform).
Why? Because a “dimensional” expert practices all three of these dimensions of expertise.
Share. Gain. Create.
Do you always have to do all three? No. You decide the rank or proportion of what’s most valuable to you, your audience, and the outcomes you’re trying to achieve.
For example, creating knowledge is really important to me. I want to put new things out there. That means I spend a lot of time gaining knowledge (8-12 hours of nonfiction reading a week, at least), and a fair amount of time creating it (1-2 hours a week writing and recording posts—way more when I was writing the manuscript of my book). That means I spend less time sharing it from stages, especially since the pandemic, but that means I need to be very strategic about when, where, and how I do.
My audiences generally aren’t on platforms like Clubhouse. Even if they are, they’re often not impressed with the people who are on those platforms to share knowledge (per that great research from Stephen Woessner and Susan Baier I keep referencing).
But for other experts and speakers I know? Their audiences are on Clubhouse and those audiences do respect those they find speaking there.
Like most things, it’s personal. But recognizing that expertise is three-dimensional, not just one- or two-, and then deciding which of those dimensions is most important to you, is a great way to reduce the FOMO—or even just the time suck—of all the platforms or marketing techniques that people say you “must” do to stand out or survive.
You’re the only expert on you. So, how will you spend your time?
(I’d love to hear how you rank the three dimensions. Email me and let me know!)Recognizing that expertise is three-dimensional, not just one- or two-, and then deciding which of these dimensions is most important to you, is a great way to reduce the FOMO of the platforms or techniques people say you must do. Click To Tweet
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