How to Become a Subject Matter Expert

Think about how you add value to your role. How is it that you go above and beyond your duties as an Administrative Professional to keep your executive informed? We all know the chaos that can ensue during certain parts of the year. Your executive has so much to juggle – the very reason our role exists in the first place – so being able to keep up on the trends and become a SME (Subject Matter Expert) is a phenomenal way to evolve into higher positions. 

The question you may be asking is; How do I become a Subject Matter Expert? How do I keep up with the trends? We did some digging around and one of our favorite publications, Business Insider, had some great insight about where to get started and how to incorporate this self-education into your routine. 

Read Voraciously

“What does ‘voraciously’ mean?” Well, if you are asking this question, it may signal that this practice will be perfect to add into your routine. The word, “voracious” means eager, insatiable, or ravenous. This is the perfect word for the attitude you need to have to become a Subject Matter Expert, or just to keep up with trends. It means that you have a true desire to consume, which in this case would mean to consume information. How do you do this? Grab those magazines at the store, anything business related, and start to catch up on them during breaks, before or after work. This is also a great reason to utilize that “Bookmark” function on your browser. Create folders for the top business publications, podcasts and social media. Make it a point to dedicate at least 30 minutes to exploring and reading these resources each day. You can also sign up for the emails – but do this with caution and create filters to keep them from overwhelming your inbox. 

Use Social Media Wisely

Most of us have that weakness for browsing mindlessly through Facebook or Instagram, just curious as to how others are living life and what memes are the most popular of the day. Did you know that there is a productive way to utilize Social Media? A way that will end up being an asset to your career? For this we recommend having dedicated “Education” accounts. For example, if you are browsing Instagram, don’t do it from a personal account where you will be tempted to wander onto friends’ profiles and other novelty reading. Creating an account specific to the information you are trying to learn will create a barrier from anything unnecessary. On this account, you will only follow relevant business accounts and hashtags. It’s a great way to keep up with trends, especially on one of the most popular social media accounts for both personal and business.  

Follow the Money

Pay attention to where money gets invested and spent. This includes keeping an eye on venture capital, private equity, and the public markets, as well as where clients (mostly IT and marketing departments) are spending their dollars and what kinds of people they are hiring. Money flows toward ideas that people think will succeed. A pattern of investments in particular areas will give you clues to what might be the big ideas over the next five to 10 years. Depending on the industry you are working in, you will be able to tailor these searches and have a wealth of information to present to your executive. 

Get Out of the Office

This is where the networking events come into play. You can only learn so much from one environment. It is important to venture out into the world to get another perspective. What your workplace may be focusing on and prioritizing may be different from how other businesses are creating their own hierarchies. Make it a goal to attend at least one networking event every couple weeks, and have those conversations with other people – admins and executives alike – to find out what is working for them and what obstacles they have identified. Use this information as a way to build and better processes internally. 

Take a Break

Obviously, with all this self-education, you will need a breather so you don’t get information overload. When you are observing all these trends and patterns, you want to be able to see as clearly as possible. If your mind is burnt out or overloaded with all this data, it will have a much more difficult time of retaining the important facts. Make sure you give yourself time to relax and refresh so you can retain as much of the good stuff as possible. 

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer