Last week my son, a computer expert, called because he needed my help. He was buying lumber for a home project, and he’d just discovered it wouldn’t fit in his subcompact car.
Yes, I’d drive my minivan to the lumberyard right away and haul his purchases home.
This week I got my payback. The email server I depend on suddenly quit. So I made a phone call. I asked if I could bring my laptop to my son’s house so my daughter-in-law (another patient techie) could seek a solution. For more than an hour she persisted online with my web hosting company. See asked and answered questions beyond my comprehension and quickly scanned and understood pages of email server settings. Thanks to her, my email is back in business.
My first line of experts are my family. I’m in close touch with experienced teachers, a librarian, a home economist, an academician, a carpenter, a cross-country bicyclist, a wilderness camper, a physical therapist, a cat expert, and even someone who once helped design satellites.
Then there are the people I know from my friendships. If I ever had questions about designing microelectronic circuits, testing torpedoes in the Arctic, serving as a pastor in a toxic church, raising bees, or planning war games, I know people to ask. Likewise for bird-watching, geology, pediatric nursing, and songwriting.
You never know where a conversation with a new acquaintance may lead: sometimes to information you may find useful, sometimes to opportunities to help others with your expertise.
I’m finishing my work in editing the third novel for one client. He learned about me years ago through a friend I met at a writers conference, who learned I had expertise in that writer’s subject area. In turn, that conference friend and I have tapped each other’s knowledge in areas where we are lacking.
Sometimes you need an expert; sometimes you are an expert. Keep it a two-way street and everyone’s a winner.