5 Reasons to Enlist an Expert

Business man and female colleague talking in office
By Marcelle Yeager

What do you do when you don't know the answer to something? The majority of people nowadays would say, "I Google it." While this makes sense for certain topics, such as currency conversion or the name of an author, more complex issues may warrant enlisting the help of an expert.The best leaders recognize that they are not knowledgeable in every area known to man. They surround themselves with smart people who can answer questions they cannot. They also typically admit that this is what allows them to be successful. While it can mean minor or significant financial investment, there are many benefits to asking a professional:

It saves you time. A lot of people have trouble asking for help, but it can save you countless hours trying to learn how to do something. If what you are trying to do is not a skill you're looking to develop or retain long term, it's probably not worth spending loads of precious time. Do you want a law degree, or a few hours of a lawyer's time to help you solve a problem?

It may only need to be done once. Not only can something outside your repertoire take a long time to create and implement, you may find you have to do it again and again if it doesn't come out right the first time. Sure, this is OK when you're baking, but do you really want to be spending time and money on printing and reprinting marketing collateral?

The results may exceed your expectations. People are considered experts for a reason – they know their stuff. While you should do your due diligence, if you get a good feeling about what you've heard or read about the person's work and you have a positive impression from speaking with him or her, go with your gut. You may be surprised at what they can do for you, whether you're developing a website for your new company or trying to figure out what career best suits you. If you invest the right person's help, you may consider the return on your investment priceless.

You may land a new professional contact. Although you may not realize it, once you enlist an expert's help, he or she is now a contact. You can connect on LinkedIn or simply stay in touch with the person, which could lead to unexpected referrals or help when you need it down the road. Almost always, there is a lot more to a person than is evident on his or her website or even in a first or second conversation. You may even share a common interest and learn something new about your hobby.

The benefits outweigh the risks. Yes, it can be pricey to hire someone to help. But you need to weigh the time and emotional cost of not doing so. If you'll be spending many evenings and weekends for the next month trying to figure out a problem, and you'd rather be out with family or friends, then you need to reconsider your decision. There are many things worth saving money on where minimal effort is required: Googling promo codes when ordering online, comparing cellphone plans, using coupons in stores and shopping during sales. Ask yourself if this is a larger issue worth a bigger investment.

Everyone has knowledge of some kind, either from education (formal or informal), work experience or a combination of the two. There's a reason we are good at certain things. It comes from exposure and a lot of practice. Just as you know your job well from doing it day in and day out, an expert knows her work in the same way. Why not ask for help? The results may surprise you.

It's also important to remember that you shouldn't be afraid of saying you don't know how to do something and will ask someone in a better position to assist. Alternatively, if there is no one with that skill set at your office, offer to learn to do it on your own. This shows initiative, adds skills to your résumé and shows that you are not afraid to admit when something is beyond your knowledge base. It's your first step to becoming a well-respected leader.

Marcelle Yeager is the president of Career Valet, which delivers personalized career navigation services. Her goal is to enable people to recognize skills and job possibilities they didn't know they had to make a career change or progress in their current career. She worked for more than 10 years as a strategic communications consultant, including four years overseas. Marcelle holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.
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