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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


The Difference Between A Novice And An Expert

It's all down to experience ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 12/07/2023 @ 8:00AM

I loved this definition from Gary Klein about the difference between a novice and an expert. It comes down to experience and how those experiences change the way you perceive the world and decide what to do ...

Novices see only what is there. Experts can see what is not!

Novices see only what is there. Experts can see what is not!


Both as a novice and an expert, you can pick up on the critical cues of the situation. After all, we’ve all had roles where you can quickly follow a checklist or process and get a result.

"It’s when things become more complex and need judgement that being the expert counts!"

Gary has interviewed many people in high-pressure roles across the board such as firefighters, military commanders, nurses, design engineers, blue-chip managers and made some interesting observations how these people become experts and exercise their expertise to decide what to do,

They build pictures in their minds of previous similar situations they’ve used. That way they can imagine how the situation developed and how a particular course of action will pan out.

When you think about it this isn’t a startling revelation. What do you do when faced with a decision? You look back and think how did I deal with this last time. What worked and what was a disaster? When you listen to real experts, they usually explain their rationale in stories, anecdotes or examples from the past.

Although they notice similarities, where they differ from others is that they notice where something is missing; how the story differs this time when their expectations aren’t panning out. They pick up early cues when what should happen doesn't. They’re tuned into the fine distinctions that others don’t notice or think are relevant. Others are often left pondering “why didn’t I think of that?

"Here’s a simple example drawn
from my own experience!"

One of the areas where I help my clients is in defining a target market of people who will actually buy from them. It’s crucial to get this really specific to get high results from a referral marketing strategy.

Novice (and those who should know better) usually fall back on traditional market segmentation. Size of business and industry type or the even vaguer SME or corporate market. The small business owner often throws up their hands in despair saying I don't have a target market “Anybody can benefit from my products and services”.

I had one such company who offered online marketing services. When I analysed his existing clients one factor jumped out for me. Although he was right in that his clients came in all sizes and from lots of different types of business they all had one thing in common. They all only sold one product or service. He’d never noticed this, and it made a difference for how he organised and pitched his services and most importantly what he asked others to look for amongst their contacts.

More than that, experts can perform more consistently, accurately and relatively faster than novices. They also integrate individual ideas or issues into existing strategies or formulate new strategies automatically. "What’s different this time and what can I pull from a different experience or knowledge that will accommodate this novel situation?"

A nice simple example is the expert snooker player. When she lines up a shot she is not thinking about just potting the ball, but where the cue ball will finish up so she's well positioned for the next shot and the shot after that.

Returning to you and me, what tips can I offer you to use this knowledge to become an expert in referral marketing to win more business?

Get out there accumulating experiences in all different networking situations

For some, it can take years to become an expert. An example would be of a medical consultant, where it takes at least 10 years. The good news is that it needn’t take that long. The key element is exposure to lots of different experiences, both good and not so good. Those experiences can be face-to-face or, increasingly, online.

The really good news is they don’t all have to be your own personal experience. The stories others tell you about things that have happened to them when networking count too.

Probably the greatest part of being human is our ability to pass on and incorporate other people's learning as if it was our own. So, encourage others to share their stories and learning with you.

Have an expert alongside you

A coach or a mentor who is an expert in referral marketing will be able to share their insights and solutions and stop you disappearing down a rabbit hole that goes nowhere.

An expert is also the best person to challenge and guide you to test out new ideas and get a new viewpoint on the familiar. It pays to have someone to test ideas out in theory as well as give you feedback on what contributed to your results.

Analyse your stories

No point in collecting stories unless you extract the learning from them. True, some appear obvious, but a deeper look at the components that made some things work whilst in apparently similar scenarios it didn’t. Remember an expert sees what others don’t.

Practice building scenarios

Take time out to imagine what will happen next if you did this or if you did that? Then check if you were right, and what apparently came out of the blue. What bit did you miss and how can you factor that in next time?

Listen to your gut

Experts often can’t explain how they knew what to do differently. In these circumstances, the missing link is often buried in their unconscious.

Be prepared to be clumsy and awkward at times

The effortlessness of the expert only comes with time and the confidence and willingness to stretch yourself beyond your present capabilities.

Is it worth it? Well, yes! Mastering your networking is an essential skill for business owners. Even if they employ a sales team the leader needs to know how to build collaborative relationships and there are some deals that only the boss can leverage.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more about becoming an expert at referral marketing, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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