Of all the buzzwords out there these days, the idea of New Media is perhaps one of the most ill-defined, nebulous concepts in the mix. At the same time, it’s one of the easiest words to use. For this reason among others (especially with the backlash against Social Media as a term recently), the profile of the New Media Expert remains fairly high.
But don’t call yourself one. Why? Because:
1) There is Too Much New Media!
How many more varieties of communication do we need to fit under one hat? Blogs, online video, podcasting, media production, even “old school” online activity like email marketing, forums and chats. The length of the list plays a big part in determining the amount of raw information an expert has to internalize before taking action on behalf of a client. When you bill yourself as a subject matter expert, part of your job – your basic value – relies on your ability to keep up with changes in trends, capabilities, and capacities regarding your subject area.
Without specificity in your designated area of expertise, your liability is massive – just try explaining to a client why you don’t know about something THEY perceive of as New Media, when you’ve already told them you know All Things New Media. Awkward!
2) There is No Measurable Qualification for Expertise in New Media!
You can get a degree in journalism. You can’t get a degree in blogging. You can get a degree in graphic design or web design, but not in new media. There are even degrees relating to information architecture, public relations and marketing – but not a usable certification for social marketing.
The lack of standardization is what provides the agility the new media sphere needs to continue being what it is. What this does is take away any reasonable explanation (without tremendous spin) for calling yourself a Guru or Expert or Overlord – without someone else calling you that first.
Pro tip: Even when someone else calls you a guru or expert, never use it in your job title.
3) There Are Too Many New Media Experts!
If you’re already billing yourself as a New Media Expert, consider getting more specialized! While some of us are lucky enough to be real polymaths, not everyone is – and even if you are, using your diverse skills as a backing for a specialty can become a kind of superpower over others with the same specialty!
Alright – so what do we do instead, then?
The most longed for job titles lately involve being experts, knowledge workers, or consultants. But what do you want to consult on?Defining your specialty can be just as helpful for your professional development as building a strong business plan can be for your adventures as an entrepreneur. Being specialized isn’t a drawback – it’s a strategy.
But what do we do about the “expert” part?
Before being called an expert, you need three things: knowledge, experience, and trust. If you think you’re going to become an in-demand consultant right out of high school, college, university, or wherever else you’re doing your training – good luck.
Knowledge you can get from schooling, or in the grit experience. Knowledge always comes before experience, though – even with on-the-task experience, what you do before your understanding of a job counts as education only.
The biggest difference between a 20-something natural and a 30- or 40-something expert is a long history of execution and decision making. Making decisions – and handling the mix of success and opportunity for improvement that comes from those decisions – is the bulk of what we call experience.
Trust – I can’t help you with. Trust is built on the transmission of success. What I can tell you is that without the ability to execute in reliable ways (experience) strategies and tactics that are meaningful (knowledge), trust has a very limited utility. My friends trust me. But that doesn’t mean they’d do business with me.
We can do this better. What does your designation look like now – and what would you rather it be, knowing why we need to shy away from nebulous over-expression?
Image credit – The US Army.