This varies by industry and organization, to some extent, but for our world, let’s say you need an expert in customer experience. The approaches would typically be:
- Talk to others in your space
- Talk to former colleagues
- Talk to friends in the geography of the area you want the person to operate in
- Do some low-grade online research
- Consider a call for RFPs
- When you narrow it down to a few organizations or individuals, vet them online, including:
- Previous work
- Any red flags
- Examples of work specific and adjacent to the work you need to be done.
- Go back to your trusted sources — executives, consultants, etc. — and run the options through them.
This system is not perfect and sometimes scammers or less-than-experts will get through it. People have built massive companies based on nothing in the past 20 years (Theranos is a good example), and very skilled institutional investors had no clue what they were putting cash into.
All humans have biases, and those biases can color our decisions and enflame our blind spots. The more people you involve in a process, while the meeting cycle can get tedious, it’s good because you reduce the blind spots due to more eyes on whether a person/organization is truly an “expert.”
This works the same way at the individual level: if you want to understand who is and isn’t an expert, get out of your own filter bubble and read/watch content from “the other side” of the ideological discussion. More voices is more framing, and more framing leads to truly expert-level people influencing you.