A subject matter expert (SME) is a person considered to be an authority on their specific field or niche. They are the people that others turn to when they are in need of expert advice on a certain topic.
If you’d like to have other people come running to you in a professional sense for guidance on a specific industry, then you should resolve to become an SME. You’re not going to be able to become one, however, if you don’t take the three steps laid out below.
The most important stage in any quest to become a subject matter expert is the education stage. If you don’t learn everything there is to know about your subject (and then learn some more, for good measure), how can you expect to become an expert in it?
There are plenty of ways to research your niche, no matter what your niche may be, as there are college and university courses taught the world over in all manner of subjects. As well as studying your specific subject, however, you should also seek to saturate yourself in a general kind of education, one that teaches you how to measure data and navigate the problem-solving process. In this instance, one of the best courses of action that you can take is to enroll yourself on a Six Sigma Yellow Belt program. Learning all about the Lean Six Sigma methodology will stand you in good stead as you circumvent your career as an SME — you will learn how to support business improvement projects through the task of data collection.
Write a book
One suggestion that could work in your bid to prove yourself as an authority in your field is to write a book. By becoming a published author in your industry, no matter how many sales the book makes, you’ll instantly be seen as somebody who can be trusted to provide accurate information. When it comes to choosing the exact subject matter of your book, just, whatever you do, make sure that you choose a topic that has yet to be covered. Nobody is going to want to read a rehashing of somebody else’s ideas!
With your book in tow, you should head to as many industry events as you can. At these events, you should talk about your book and your niche field as a whole.
Seek ongoing publication
Your book shouldn’t be the last thing that you publish, though. In order to showcase the fact that you keep your finger on the pulse of your industry, you have to seek ongoing publication. This means continuing to publish in academic journals, and this means writing regular columns for trade magazines. By doing this, you’ll also be likely to get some pay for your efforts, too, which should, in fact, act as motivation in itself to do it.
If becoming a subject matter expert is your life calling, then you need to take the three steps laid out above. You should learn, you should write about your knowledge, and you should then continue to do both until you’re ready to retire!