How To Find Experts (part 2 of 2)

How To Find The Experts You Had No Idea You Needed

In part one of this post, I explained some tips that have worked for me when I needed to find the great people I like to, and need to work with on the various projects I’m involved in. This post will focus on how to find the great people I need to work with…but here’s the catch – I had no idea I’d needed to work with them.

Am I Looking For X-Man?
What I mean by this is, I’ll be working on a project and come across the need for someone who knows about “x”. Up until that point in time, I had not heard of “x” or known that there were people who specialized in “x”. Adding to the complexity, the “x” (call it x-ish) I’m looking for … I may not have it totally defined, as it is a combination of a few different skill sets, and I am not sure what to call it. How do you find what you know you need but aren’t sure what it’s called?

This refers to skill sets, expertise, areas that I wasn’t sure existed (as I had never heard of it before…I don’t know what I don’t know). Who does this stuff? What is it called?

An Example
Recently, one of the experts I needed to find was a person who understood online analytics, design, business, presentation skills, and could teach someone how to bring these four areas together. I needed someone who could teach marketers how to take their analytical data, select which aspects were most important to the business (not the marketing department), display that data in a visually compelling way (ie: not just pie charts, but not just a cut and past of a screen of numbers either – surly there is something better?) on a professional-looking slide deck, and then wrap it into a live presentation appropriate to be delivered to senior management.

Where on earth would I find such a person – and do they exist – and what exactly do I type into Google or ask people I know who they know so I find what I am looking for? What is this called?

Where to start
So I started with the end in mind. What was the result I wanted?

  • The right data for the audience (sr. management) displayed well
  • A visually compelling presentation to explain the data
  • A teachable process for any marketer needing to present to his/her sr. management a way they could learn to do so effectively

Start Here
Based on those three points, I starting typing various phrases into Google such as “teaching data visualization”, “how to present to sr. management”, “how to not bore your non-technical audience”. I then switched over to SlideShare to see if anyone had done a presentation on this problem. I found three people that had. Three!

I’m currently in the middle of the project with one of the three people I found on SlideShare. So far, it has been a good experience.

The Three Tips To Finding Experts
To sum up, here are some steps to follow when searching for those experts you just realized you needed:

  1. Start with your end result in mind.
    What is the end result you’d like to have? Now work backwards. In my case, the end result was a slide deck with a voice over that made sense. Going to SlideShare where people post their presentations allowed me to see many examples of the “end result” I was looking for.
  2. Stay open and always be looking.
    I’m sure if I had been more open to attending or reading more articles about design, visualizing data, giving great presentations – I would have been aware of these experts, and my search wouldn’t have been so confusing or long. The next time that Eventbrite (or any seminar, Meetup, networking, association) email announcement pops into your inbox about an event on some obscure topic you’d never thought related to your business, you may want to check it out. Could open doors to finding your next expert.
  3. Over communicate with what you’re looking for.
    Once you’ve found your expert, tell them “I don’t know a lot about your field, so I’m not sure all what to ask. Please help me by showing me what is possible with what you can do. Here is the end result I am looking for but I don’t know if there is a faster, better, easier, way to go about achieving this. Perhaps my end-goal is too limiting, I need your insights on this. I’m a beginner here, help me figure this out.”

Hopefully these tips will help you when next you need to find an expert you didn’t know you needed. Do you have any tips to share? What’s been the best way you’ve found experts you didn’t know you needed?


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