A Sure Route to Career Success: Become an Expert in Something

October 8, 2010

Contributed by Guest Blogger, Jane Maas

The legendary advertising man David Ogilvy (my boss) loved to tell the story of a young account executive at his agency who climbed to the top because he became a leading authority on the product manufactured by his client. In short order, the client hired him. The man continued to build his expertise. Ultimately he became CEO of the client company.

What can you become an expert in? Here are four tips to help you decide.

  1. Don't bite off more than you can chew. For instance, deciding that you will become an expert in social media could overcome you. It's a vast arena. What's more, it is changing by the day, almost by the hour. Already, people are asking what the new Facebook is going to be, or the next Twitter. Dig into a more stable subject, such as the motivations for people these days to become part of networks and communicate within them.
  2. Choose a subject that enhances your career. If you become an expert on Egyptian tomb painting, you may be a hit at cocktail parties but it isn't likely to aid you professionally. Investigate areas that are important to your company now, or might become important to it in the future. Make yourself an expert in subjects that currently bewilder your company and cause them to seek outside help. You can become your firm's invaluable inside resource. Worth your weight in gold.
  3. It might as well be a subject you like. If numbers turn you off, don't decide to become the authority on marketing ROI. If the creative process mystifies you, steer clear of areas where creativity rules the roost. You want to feel right at home in your expert niche and enjoy adding to your own wealth of knowledge.
  4. It should have a clear future. It's probably smart to steer clear of hi-tech areas that can change dramatically. (Note the comments about Facebook and Twitter in #1 above.) You are better off mastering more long-lived psychological or sociological phenomena.


Whatever the area of expertise you choose, the ANA's School of Marketing probably offers a course that can help you master it. Or market it. While you're thinking about it, go to ana.net and take a look.



You must be logged in to submit a comment.