Becoming a subject matter expert (SME) doesn’t just happen. It requires a lot of hard work, time, and effort. However, if you want to make progress in your business and become a big success, you will have to become an SME so that when the other person needs what you are offering, you will be the one that he or she chooses to hire instead of someone else.
What is involved in becoming an SME?
If you get to the point at which the other person chooses to hire you or to buy whatever you are selling (product and/or service), some really significant things have already been accomplished previously. First of all, you succeeded in getting the other person to trust you. Second, you have established enough credibility for the other person to understand that you truly know what you are talking about. If you are considered a subject matter expert, that means that in the eyes of the other person, your knowledge is what they need and nobody else will do it better than you will. It is really that simple.
Because the competition is so fierce, both in and out of your particular niche, you will need to work really hard at establishing your position. There are certain truths that you must follow in order to truly become an expert in your niche.
- Have a deep understanding of your niche: Before you can do anything, you will need to establish the topic(s) that will be desirable to other people. The way that you approach that is by choosing a niche that is focused and not overly broad or general. It is almost impossible to become an SME in a niche that is particularly broad. In that case, there is just too much to learn (and to master). On the other hand, you don’t want your niche to be so narrow that you will run out of topics about which to write. Your choice will largely depend on your knowledge of those topics. Before you do anything, you will have to have to have tremendous knowledge of those topics (intimately). You will also need to find your voice and you will have to establish what makes you unique. That is exactly what will get you noticed by the other person and it will keep the other person captivated by your knowledge and by your unique perspective.
- Become an authority figure: There are many different aspects to becoming an authority figure. Just like you have a brand for your business, you also have to have a brand for you. It has to be a brand that is unique and you will have to communicate clearly exactly how you are going to help the other person to solve his or her problem. You should think carefully about how you can help the other person and you should think about how your expertise will help you to get noticed and retained. It isn’t enough to merely consider yourself an expert in your niche. A claim is one thing. However, you really do need to put your money where your mouth is. The truth is that people don’t generally part with their money easily. If they are going to be willing to spend money, it better be for something of value to them.
- Be patient. It takes time: When you first set out to establish your position as a subject matter expert, you will have your work cut out for you. You will need to get people to notice what you are doing and what you know. That means that you will have to write and post content that is appropriate, compelling, and valuable. You will also need to establish a significant following. Of course, that will not happen overnight. It takes time. However, before you even to any of that, you will need to be certain of your target audience. If you don’t have the appropriate target audience, they will not be interested in anything that you have to say. If you are able to be patient, all of the time and effort that you put into it will reward you. People will start to interact with you and you will start to establish meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships.
- Time to get started: Now that you understand what you need to do to lay the foundation for becoming a subject matter expert, there are some specific steps that you will want to follow:
- Build a blog: Remember, it is important to start to get your content out there so that others can read what you are posting and understand your values and your knowledge. It is also really important to promote discussions with your blogs. Many valuable things will come from those discussions.
- Build an ever-evolving Email list: Email addresses are one of the most important ways that you will connect with your target audience members. Of course, they are not the only way but they are absolutely effective. If connections are not established through Email, perhaps those individuals are not meant to be your target audience members.
- Give them an eBook: Writing an eBook probably sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is. If you have written a large number of appropriate, related blogs, you have already written an eBook. The only thing left to do is to choose exactly which blogs you want to include in your eBook and arrange them in the most appropriate order possible.
- Contribute valuable information in discussion forums and blogs: If you want people to start considering you an SME, you need to give them the benefit of your knowledge. Let them hear from you often.
- Make sure that you have a strong presence on social media: Hopefully, you already have complete profiles on your chosen social media channels (including regular status updates). Well, now you need to work it. Make sure that you connect with people through social media and allow them to get to know you better.
Establishing your status as an SME is critical to the continued success of your business and of your brand. A part of the equation is also people. You will want to network as often with other people as possible because the relationships that you establish are critical to your success. If you are consistent in your efforts and the time that you are willing to devote to acquiring knowledge, it will pay off. With a little patience and a lot of hard work, you will get there and other people will be eternally grateful for all that you are able to give to them.
Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies. Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. He also reduced company travel and travel costs by introducing and implementing various collaboration technologies.
His expertise includes business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.