Need advice?  Experts, including myself, will be glad to share it. Unfortunately, experts can give very bad advice.  As an expert, I need to walk a fine line here, since this article itself is an expert opinion.  But hear me out.

The main problem with experts today is that everyone seems to be one.

Don’t get me wrong.  We need experts.  The next time my dishwasher breaks, I want an expert to fix it.  And sure, if my business needs help with marketing, I want a marketing expert to help me.  But you need to separate the good from the bad by watching for the following five warning signs.

1. Hasn’t been there, hasn’t done that

You want a coach or expert who has actually done what you are doing. While a coach may have training in your field, nothing can top hands-on experience.  Look for a coach that has direct experience in what you need advice about.

2. Big words, little action

It is easy for an expert to gain credibility by writing. Many experts quickly dominate the blogosphere with sage advice.  But the reality is that words mean nothing if you can’t execute.  Look for coaches who both write about what they do and do what they write about.

3. Advice, but no specific experience

Ever ask an expert what they think about your product or service and they then tell you why it is a horrible or great idea?  I don’t care if you have 100 years of consulting experience.  If the expert is not the end consumer of the product or service, his advice is wrong.

The consumer knows what she wants. Listen to her.

Tip:  If you want to quickly qualify an expert, ask them what they think about your offering. If they offer advice, without qualifying (or disqualifying) themselves based on their consumer experience, they’re likely giving you bad advice.