Expert Ding-Dong

I keep seeing LinkedIn profile headlines with the word “expert” in them. Good grief. The surface-level reaction is: “Haha, look at that try-hard.” But that’s a defensive coating on the deeper response: “Oh shit, should I be doing that? I’m more of an expert on [Topic] than that guy!”

I’ve built my share of expertise in a few areas. That could be me! I could pop “expert” right up in there. But I … don’t want to? It feels squicky. To describe oneself as an expert seems akin to talking about how kind and humble you are.

In contract law, experts are sometimes called to make binding determinations. I like this phrase I found from a quick Google search: “Expert determination is consensual.” They’re using it in a contractual sense but boy doesn’t that ring true? Call yourself an expert all you like but it takes two to tango.

The more I learn and the more writing I do the less comfortable I am with authoritative posturing. The fuck do I know, you know? Trying to sound smart works as well as trying to be cool — which is to say, not at all. Call me an Expert Ding-Dong. Pre-eminent Thought Forgetter. Chief Idiot Officer. Come on, one more … oh oh! Director of Donkey Brains.

I don’t want your business card

Two men who assuredly do not have business cards chatting at the Tohono O’odham Swapmeet in Tucson, AZ.
Two men who assuredly do not have business cards chatting at the Tohono O’odham Swapmeet in Tucson, AZ.

I feel like network should be more noun than verb. I get on better with people at professional events who are just being people (not collecting them).

Do I want to grow my network? Yes yes, of course. I want an upward career trajectory, and to grow the audience for the things I make. I want to meet interesting people and learn from them. But I’ve always tried to build my network without inflicting networking on other people.

I tune out as soon as the pitch starts. You can hear it coming. Who wants that? I don’t want that. I don’t want your business card. I don’t want to hear the pitch. I probably don’t even want you to have my business card.

Let’s just be people.