How To: Become a Subject Matter Expert - SME

The term Subject Matter Expert is commonplace in our work environment, especially in the corporate world. What is a Subject Matter Expert or SME? Put simply; an SME is someone that understands a subject inside and out. An SME can help explain the subject and hold discussions that encourage critical thinking skills. The SME is the ‘Go To’ person at your company.

How did this person gain so much knowledge? And how can you become an SME?

READ: Read books that inspire you. Read leadership books you align with, not just the trending ‘best book’ in your company or industry. Read books that teach you how to think critically about your industry. Most importantly, read your company policies and procedures. Know them forward and backward, actively seek knowledge. As they say in School House Rock, “Knowledge is Power!”

Set Goals: Don’t just live in the here and now. How can you grow if you have no direction and no plan to get there? Set immediate and long-term goals. Thinking about your future inspires curiosity and active learning, both of which are keys to long-term success.

Mentor Others: Learn to coach colleagues and subordinates. Create training guides/manual along the way, even though it is not in your job purview. I’m not suggesting creating PowerPoints or bound copies, but actively take notes and document best practices. When you are ready to move to the next level in your career and taking on leadership roles you will have notes and ‘how to’s’ better known as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to put in place.

Build Relationships: Talk with cross-functional leadership teams. Speak with outside vendors and ask customers/clients questions about their experience. Gauge the effectiveness of your department and company. What is the reputation? Then emulate the best qualities and look for creative solutions to address and resolve perceived shortcomings.

Finally, to become a Subject Matter Expert, you need to know more than how to do something. True SMEs can define the subject, produce results, train others on best practices, and relate to any given audience. In other words, READ, Set Goals, Mentor Others, and Build Relationships!
Until next Tuesday…

Comment Below: What advice and tools can you apply right now to become and SME?