Subject Matter Experts

Finding a subject matter expert can be a bit like finding your perfect partner—it’s not easy and it requires some effort on your part, but, in the end, it is well worth the effort.

For anyone that has ever dated (so presumably all of us, since arranged marriages aren’t really a thing anymore), you know how tough it can be finding someone who shares your interests, that you are attracted to and that is fun to be around. Discovering a subject matter expert (SME) to feature in content for your company is actually quite similar. Let us explain.

Pre-date prep

While the sexes may differ a bit in their pre-date prep, we’re going to presume that both men and women put a little effort into their appearance before embarking on a date. When a company is searching for SMEs, you should do the same. You want to look for SMEs that are passionate about what they do and are interested in sharing that expertise with you and your content audience. In dating terms, you are exploring SMEs to find one that shares your interests. Some of the best ways to do this is via LinkedIn and Twitter, or other social networks where people can share their interest and expertise in business topics. Or consult with your top customers; they may be the perfect source to tap due to their regular usage of your product or service.

Time for small talk

When a dating relationship is just getting off the ground, you have to have some basic conversations to learn about the other person. The same idea holds for interviewing SMEs.  Start out with the equivalent of small talk—ask them about their background, and discuss some easy, general questions to get everyone relaxed and comfortable with each other.

Next have a list of five questions to serve as talking points to frame your interview. These help you stay focused on what you want the eventual content to center on, while allowing for a more open and free-flowing conversation. In dating parlance, these would be the conversation topics you try to cover early on because you consider them deal breakers for a potential relationship partner (i.e. a guy that still lives with his mom or a girl that has multiple cats).

Ready for a nightcap?

Ok, no one asks anyone up to their place for a nightcap anymore, we get it, we’ve been watching too many Cary Grant movies on TCM, but for your SME search this is the part where you decide what you need to follow up on during the interview:

  • Have you learned anything from your SME that you didn’t already know? If not, keep digging for that new bit of intel.
  • Was something not clear to you? Ask follow up questions to make sure you understand everything, thus ensuring your future readers aren’t left confused.
  • Finish by asking if there are any other details the SME thinks your customers need to know that you haven’t already touched on.