How to become an expert in your field

I have been compiling a list of what things a person can do to become an expert, or guru, in his chosen field, whether that be in specific fields like SQL Server, BI, .Net, or in a broad field like career advise or data architect.  While we can all argue about what constitutes a person as an “expert”, I think we can all agree that name recognition is an important part of that, so the below list has that as its main focus. Of course, you need plenty of job experience and a broad skill set.

Here is what should be on the list of someone who wants to specifically become a SQL Server BI expert – by expanding their own “brand” and by getting out there and becoming known:

  • Microsoft certifications – There are six SQL Server certifications that you should obtain, three are MCTS and three are MCITP
  • LinkedIn – Have an account and post updates when you have a new blog entry.  Link to every person in your field you can find
  • Blog – Have a blog that you update every few days. WordPress is great for this.  Here are the reasons for blogging and help on what to blog about
  • Twitter – Setup an account so others can contact you and where you can post when you have a new blog entry.  Or where you can chat with other experts
  • Sharepoint certification – Since PerformancePoint is now part of SharePoint, it’s good to know Sharepoint well
  • SQL Server Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) – Once you get the six Microsoft certs mentioned earlier, try for the MCM and become part of an elite group.  There are only eight people in the US who have this and are not Microsoft employees.  Or try and become a SSAS Maestros
  • Speak/present at local user groups – Find your local PASS chapter and speak at one of their meetings.  Each city usually has plenty of other user groups
  • Speak at large conferences – Submit an abstract to conferences like PASS, SQL Server ConnectionsTDWI, SQLBits, Microsoft TechEd, Microsoft BI Conference and Microsoft PDC and hope to be able to speak at one or more
  • Become a Microsoft MVP – Awarded each April 1st to those who contribute the most to the SQL Server community.  Apart from the recognition you get invited to MVP only events, a free MSDN subscription, private newsgroups and get direct access to the Microsoft product teams
  • Post answers on sites like Experts-Exchange, LinkedIn discussion groups, Kimball Forum, DBA.StackExchange, SQLServerCentral
  • Write magazine and website articles – SQL Server magazine and Dr. Dobbs are two of the most popular
  • Whitepapers – Cover a topic in detail and post it on your own site
  • Book – Write a book, or a chapter in a book, or be a technical editor of a book
  • Teach classes – Do a class for a local college or a training center like New Horizons, onlc, HOTT, CTREC Hilton
  • Do a community project, like CodePlex
  • Syndicate your blog – The two most popular sites for this are SQLServerPedia and SQLServerCentral, and also Beyond Relational.  Also, re-post your blogs at bidn
  • TDWI certification – Obtain the CBIP (Certified Business Intelligence Professional)
  • Weekly newsletter – Build a subscription list for a newletter containing tips, favorite recent articles, relevant industry news, etc

Obviously hitting all these items would take a ton of time, but you did not think becoming a guru would be easy, did you?  You say you don’t have the time?  Well, Figure It the %$&* Out!

More info:

How To Win Career Gold

Rock Stars, Normal People, and You

Getting Started

How to build your personal brand: The next step to anything

About James Serra

James is a big data and data warehousing solution architect at Microsoft. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 25 years of IT experience.
This entry was posted in Business Intelligence, Career, SQLServerPedia Syndication. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to become an expert in your field

  1. Excellent Article !!!
    This should act as a really good starting point for people who plan to become an Export (Guru) in Microsoft BI Space.

    Thanks for posting this James !
    Keep up the good work.

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