No one is born an expert. If you want to become a subject matter expert (SME), you have to start somewhere. With the passion for a specific subject and a desire for continuous learning, you should consider a SME role. It not only increases your personal value but also bolsters your company's value in the market.
Are you wondering: What is a subject matter expert? And what do they do? A subject matter expert has a deep knowledge of a specific process, function or technology (or, a combination of all three). An SME is considered an authority on a certain topic – not only educated on the subject but has the capacity to share their knowledge with other interested parties. This information is important to your company because it gives it a competitive edge.
Traits of Subject Matter Expert
Build A Foundation Of Knowledge
o become an expert, you must first be a novice. Start by educating yourself on the subject of interest. You won't be able to fake it until you make it on this one. You'll be sharing information with other professionals in the field. Therefore, you MUST know the topic if you want to be recognized as a subject matter expert.
Continue Educating Yourself
It's one thing to have majored in a particular area, but you need to know the latest happenings in the space to have a shot at becoming an SME. Attend conferences, participate in Twitter chats and subscribe to industry publications. You have to constantly stay updated with the latest information.
Try Out Your Own Ideas
To make it as a SME, you should have the ability to come up with your own ideas in the space. The only way to do this effectively (and not get busted as a fraud) is to completely immerse yourself in the subject. Make sure you test out these ideas before you advise others to put them into practice.
Participate On Social Media
You will be able to follow other authorities on social media and follow relevant hashtags to keep a pulse on the subject. Also, leverage social media to market your expertise. Get involved in Twitter Chats or tweet along with live webcasts. Start by sharing reputable information on the subject before interjecting your opinions.
Share Your Subject Matter Expertise
Beyond social media, you can start a blog or a podcast to share your knowledge and ideas regularly. Take advantage of technology to get your message out. A YouTube channel is another option. If you're not ready to commit to regular content, try hosting or co-hosting a one-off webcast. Be open to questions so others can start to trust your information.
Be A Decisionmaker
You'll have to work your way up to this one, but real-life practice will be the best continuing education you can get. If you have the authority in your job to affect the outcomes of major decisions, you're on your way to SME stardom. Being an influencer will strengthen your value as a subject matter expert – and others will notice.
Your company may recognize your knowledge is valuable to gain recognition in the market or even garner more sales interest. But, to remain a go-to on your topic of choice, you need to remain neutral. You want to be looked at as a true authority on the subject and not someone who is easily persuaded by the goods or services your current company is selling. Your reputation is of utmost importance.