Gini Dietrich

I’m the Smartest Person In the Room!

By: Gini Dietrich | October 26, 2010 | 
133

There is something happening online that really bothers me. People are calling themselves experts, mavens, and gurus. With no real experience or case studies to back up their claims. This is not new – I noticed it was rampant a few years ago when I began participating online. But last night I was reading a list of the top 25 women who both tweet and blog and, in the comments, more than one person said, “Why didn’t you include me?” But, most weren’t that nice.

Imagine walking into a networking event and exclaiming, “I’m the smartest person in the room!” How many people would line up and wait for hours to get to talk with you? Imagine going to a conference and, in front, of all of the attendees, from the back of the room, standing up and asking, “Why wasn’t I included on this panel?” How many times would you be invited to speak?

Isn’t it better for someone else to tell people you’re a guru, an expert, or a maven? Isn’t it better for someone else to say you’re the smartest person in the room? Isn’t it better for someone else to recommend you for a speaking opportunity?

In the case of lists, they’re so subjective and dependent on the relationship you have with the person that wrote it. Sure, you might have been missed, but it’s likely your friends will tell that blogger or journalist you were missed. Why do you have to ask? Instead, comment on the blog, read more posts, comment on those, compliment the blogger or journalist. Develop a, gasp!, relationship. My guess is, without having to say anything, you’ll be included on the next list.

If you’re good as you think you are, they will. If they don’t, perhaps you should examine your engagement, your relationships, your content, and the way you behave, both online and off. As my friend Lisa Gerber says, “No one likes Type OO.” Output Only.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks,Β co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She alsoΒ is the lead blogger atΒ Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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133 Comments on "I’m the Smartest Person In the Room!"

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sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 6 months ago
WOW! Great post! I agree 100%! It’s something I noticed when I got started on Twitter….EVERYONE is a Guru, but when I go and check out their various services they have little to no experience to back the claim up or convince me to use them. Everyone has specialties, but a specialty doesn’t make you a expert or guru. For me, if I am looking for a service, and you make the expert/guru claim and have zero proof, you are guaranteed to turn me off. So, overstating could loose you business. I believe we would all be better served being… Read more »
adriandayton
adriandayton
5 years 6 months ago

I can’t believe you didn’t mention me in this article. I’m crushed.

trontastic
trontastic
5 years 6 months ago

Its true, there are a good number of self proclaimed esssperts out there [mental note, go check twitter profile]. That said, they really don’t bother me that much. Not only do these jokers provide plenty of opportunities for a good laugh, they also make it easier to win new business by showing solid experience.

On a similar note, I recommend to you and your readers that you go check out something @seosmarty just posted on Twitter about guest blogging. It goes right along with what you’re saying about displaying your authority on a subject matter. http://bit.ly/cem9hj

justinthesouth
5 years 6 months ago

Great post Gini! I am glad that someone is fianly talking about this issue!

justinthesouth
5 years 6 months ago

@adriandayton Yeah, I was crushed too!

patrickreyes
patrickreyes
5 years 6 months ago

Me three!

bradmarley
bradmarley
5 years 6 months ago

The only purpose a list serves is to push people toward focusing their attention on those who are already people, while lessening the chance that they’ll go out and find some hidden gems elsewhere.

bradmarley
bradmarley
5 years 6 months ago

Great post. I actually think about this a lot.

The only purpose a list serves is to push people toward focusing their attention on those who are already popular, while lessening the chance that they will spend the time to find hidden gems elsewhere.

If you’re focusing on lists (or, getting placed on them), you’re not putting your attention in the right place.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

LOL!! You guys are too much. HAHAHAHA!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@sydcon_mktg I agree! It’s like anything in life…if you have to tell me how smart you are, you likely are over-compensating. It really didn’t bother me much until I read this blog post last night and there were SEVERAL women who blatantly said they should have been on the list. Give me a break.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@bradmarley EXACTLY! It’s nice to be included on lists, but almost as an after thought and definitely because someone surprises you…not because you insisted on it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@trontastic Note to self: You CAN get Levi to comment on your blog! I shall check out @seosmarty. But only because you recommended it.

trontastic
trontastic
5 years 6 months ago

I just felt bad. At the time there was only one lonely comment and I didn’t want it to sit around all by itself. πŸ™‚ Besides, it was a pretty decent article too.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 6 months ago

You know, I see that a lot with women especially! It’s like the feel they have to shout the own praises to be seen. Ladies, be loud and obnoxious isn’t a strong suit, or a pretty one!

patrickreyes
patrickreyes
5 years 6 months ago
Love this post Gini. This is a trap we can all fall into but as you remind us in your post, we can’t forget about why we got into this space to begin with…to meet people and develop relationships. The other thought that popped into my head was something I heard at Catalyst earlier this month from T.D. Jakes. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, get out of the room.” We all are continual learners and are never really “experts” at anything. Continue to grow and learn by talking and building relationships. Lists are only important to one… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@trontastic You’re such a good friend!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@sydcon_mktg Not AT ALL!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@PatrickReyes I agree on almost everything – “making” a list does help your traffic and expose you to new audiences so they do matter to others, as well. But if you have to go to that person’s comments and ask why you weren’t included, you don’t deserve to be included.

trontastic
trontastic
5 years 6 months ago

@bradmarley I agree to a point brad. No one should concentrate on lists, but list count can become an indicator of influence and reach. More commenly, lists are used by those who create them to organize those they feel should be categorized into a meaningul group.

From a business perspective, concentration on building influence is important and understanding the KPI’s that act as signals is equally important. To that end, creating a push for list placement isn’t always a bad thing, but it should be done with supplimental efforts to generate reach and influence through other channels simultaneiously.

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
5 years 6 months ago

Wow! I had thought about this lately…in fact, it came to my mind when I had asked to guest blog for you. I readily admit that I don’t have the level of expertise that you do in marketing and PR, Gini, but the more I teach myself about this field every day, and the more I speak with experts like you and your team, the more I feel ready to talk about the subject. But at what point is someone considered an “expert?” And aren’t you continuing to learn, even with your level of experience?

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
5 years 6 months ago

And by the way…what do the “5pts,” “6pts,” etc. mean by the posts?

KarenARocks
KarenARocks
5 years 6 months ago

I just got a @reply from someone who proclaimed to be a “social media maven” who barely used Twitter. He seemed like a decent guy who worked very close to me. If he hadn’t used that cliche, non-substanciated title, I would have been more apt/interested to talk to him. But with that title as his only bio, I just got the “Ewww” factor instead of the “Ahhh” factor like I am sure he was intending.

NancyMyrland
NancyMyrland
5 years 6 months ago

Ya, and “what about me? It’s all about ME,” she said as she drew an imaginary circle around the top of her head. πŸ˜‰

wabbitoid
5 years 6 months ago
“Show, don’t tell”. That’s what a good minimalist writer says to his/herself over and over, and I wish more people would do the same with their lives. Having said that, I’m not entirely sure that it works with SM. There are a lot of strong personalities out there who dominate the field, proclaiming themselves to be “experts” and so on with no real thought, data, or even good anecdotes to back themselves up. I think the industry is absolutely rife with this kind of personality – to the point where those of us who are out there doing work and… Read more »
Sushi
5 years 6 months ago

@EricPudalov The points show your reputation within Livefyre’s commenting system. You got five points by connecting with Facebook, and you get another point every time someone likes your comment.

Marijean
5 years 6 months ago

What a great reminder — as I find myself getting irritated by the number of unqualified people trying to make a buck in social media with no communications background whatsoever — if you don’t have the ability or commitment to develop relationships as well as content, then you won’t emerge as a leader.

DannyBrown
5 years 6 months ago
We must read the same posts and lists, Gini – the amount of times I see a “Why Not Me” comment boggles the mind. And often from folks who you think should know better… The way I look at it is this – lists are great, and offer a nice little boost that you’re seen to be doing something right. But unless they transfer into tangible results for clients (and therefor you), or help you get client in the first place, they’re just another notch on your virtual bedpost. Get too many of them, and you’re seen as a tramp.… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 6 months ago

@EricPudalov @Sushi Sssh, don’t bring up the Points – it’s a sore topic with @ginidietrich πŸ˜‰

DannyBrown
5 years 6 months ago

@EricPudalov We’re always learning, Eric. The day we stop learning is the day our competitors win.

Sushi
5 years 6 months ago

@dannybrown I nearly mentioned her in my last reply. πŸ˜‰

DannyBrown
5 years 6 months ago
@trontastic @bradmarley I think it depends on the list. If it’s a personal site list, it generally comes down to knowledge and relationship with that person. If it’s down to analytics, that can come down to skewed figures from an automated sentiment grabber. It’s also down to relevance. Does a Top 10 PR List mean you’ll automatically get great results for my company? No, because you might have no experience whatsoever in my market, so immediately you’re less influential than someone who wasn’t on the list, but has 15 years PR experience in my industry. Lists are fine, but often… Read more »
DannyBrown
5 years 6 months ago

@Sushi Don’t – she’d just become unbearable… πŸ˜‰

SandySidhu
5 years 6 months ago

Actions speak louder than words. Show the world why you are an ‘expert’ and let them decide!

EricPudalov
EricPudalov
5 years 6 months ago

@KarenARocks Perhaps I’ll just stay away from the title “social media maven” and other cliches altogether, if possible.

KarenARocks
KarenARocks
5 years 6 months ago

@EricPudalov There you go. And is it just me or when I hear the word “maven” I instantly think the person would be female?

JoyFull_deb
JoyFull_deb
5 years 6 months ago
I’m “gasping” for breath here…LoL. Love your post. As an “outsider”, in that, I’m not in the Social Media Business, I’m continually amazed at how many “Gurus and Experts” abound. Several folks have stated here, that everyone can’t be an expert. I’m NOT!! If everyone was an expert, y’all wouldn’t have clients. I’m “old school” when it comes to recommending/referring someone because of their expertise. “If you build it, they will come.” It’s all about relationships and a reputation of solid, successful work. The list thingy gets me…Danny made a great comment linking lists & tangible results for clients. For… Read more »
rachaelseda
5 years 6 months ago

I totally agree, no one likes the person that constantly brags about themselves in real life….and it’s no different on the internet! You have to prove yourself and show that you are knowledgeable about something, doing this says it all.

agmahoney
agmahoney
5 years 6 months ago

Thank you for airing what I’ve been thinking! Recently I was followed on Twitter by a man who called himself a “social media celebrity.” His website and page were all pictures of himself, talking about himself, and how influential he was. But I Googled him, and come to find out…he really was the only one talking about himself.

There’s something HUGE to be said about humility. If someone is truly smart, engaging, innovative and caring, it shows. They don’t need spin to attract others to them.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg
5 years 6 months ago

@agmahoney OMG, I have done similar and googled some of the “experts” on to find they were blowing some strong wind! It always amazes me, don’t people these days realize with the internet and social media, people can find out just how much of a expert you are by doing a Google search? So, then all their chest pounding, egotistical blabbing does is really make them look like a liar!

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 6 months ago
Rather than rant on and on about this because I completely agree with you, I’ll just say this. The folks we’re talking about won’t read this. Because they’re not targeting you or I. And they’re going to keep doing it. Why? Because they don’t care. It’s a marketing gimmick. And it works. The uneducated will believe these “mavens”, “gurus”, “experts”, and “kings” (yes, I just made my own up) and ask them for advice, tips, etc. I hate this so much. I hate that there are folks out there who fall for this crap. But I’m not sure there’s much… Read more »
timjahn
timjahn
5 years 6 months ago
@Marijean I’m not sure background is what’s important here so much as experience is. For example, prior to starting BeyondThePedway.com, I had minimal to no experience interviewing people for anything. But over the past year and a half, I’ve built up an enormous amount of experience doing this. If someone were to come to me now and ask for advice on how to interview, I feel confident I could help them become better at that. And I feel that I wouldn’t be swindling them because I don’t have a specific interviewing background, like journalism or being a television anchor of… Read more »
timjahn
timjahn
5 years 6 months ago

@dannybrown Says the guy with 85 points… πŸ˜‰

lisagerber
lisagerber
5 years 6 months ago

ahahahahaha!! but I was mentioned!!! So i’m like SUPERSTAR. I’m laughing so hard, because I”m reading through this thinking you know what? that’s the difference between advertising and PR, yes? and then I saw my name and I had to laugh out loud. : )

wabbitoid
5 years 6 months ago

You are sadly correct. Many of my clients have been “once burned” but self-proclaimed experts. I recently saw an article in the Star-Tribune (Mpls) quoting someone as a “social media expert” who really doesn’t know jack about how to make things work for a client. People do buy this nonsense, which is what bothers me. I think we all have to start speaking up on this stuff.

BTW, I am no “expert”. I consider myself a “practioner”.

barryrsilver
5 years 6 months ago

The post speaks for itself. I too am skeptical of self-proclaimed rockstars, ninjas, sherpas, experts, etc. Add to that list those whose “networking” starts a sales pitch and remains a sales pitch. Perhaps showing basic competence and an ability to listen as a start.

I have a rule. I never eat at restaurant with the words “Good Food” on the sign or window. Good food should be a prerequisite not a selling point.

thewhalehunters
thewhalehunters
5 years 6 months ago

@KarenARocks I sooooo love the “EWWW” factor–my word of the day!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@barryrsilver Which reminds me of a game my friends and I play. We go to Mexican restaurants that proclaim to have the “world’s best” margarita. Once, we hit 22 bars in one night (don’t ask if I was standing). But they ALL said “world’s best.” And guess what? They weren’t. Well, they were by the end of the night, but you know what I mean.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@lisagerber Now you know that @adriandayton @patrickreyes and @justinthesouth are jealous of you. Because YOU were the only person mentioned!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@wabbitoid @timjahn OH HECK NO!!!!!!!!! I am blasting this blog post all over the freaking world! Let’s see if we can get them to pay attention!

Alright, fine. You’re right. Sigh.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 6 months ago

@agmahoney Hence…spin sucks!! πŸ™‚

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