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How to Work with a Subject Matter Expert

Working with an SME will help you create better services and products for your audience. The reason is that you’ll get the right information at the right time from the right people, so that your audience knows it’s the real thing.
* Get Started Right – Always be polite to your SME so that you can make them want to be around you to talk to you about the topic. Tell them you appreciate them, and how important their information is.
* Do Your Homework – Study everything you can about the SME. Read their publications, blogs, and books, and attend their events. The more you know about them, the more you’re going to learn about the subject – and the more they’re going to feel appreciated and respected.
* Establish Expectations – When you first start working with an SME, talk to them about what you expect from your work together and let them tell you what they expect from you. If you can both work out when you’ll meet, where, and how often, and how each meeting will go, everything will work out good.
* Engage Them – Most SMEs are good people, but they have other priorities in their life than your project. Therefore, you must find ways to make them want to do this, and be interested and invested in the outcome of your work together.
* Stay Flexible – Sometimes SMEs have things come up and can’t meet. Try to be flexible so that they’ll want to keep working with you. Since the information you’re learning from them is so important, find ways to meet that is less disruptive such as using Zoom.us or Skype or Facebook chat.
* Incentivize Them – The most important way to make your SME want to work with you is to make it worth their while. Feed them dinner while you talk to them. Invite them to events that you’re having and introduce them to your contacts. The easiest way is to pay them for their time.
* Start from Scratch – Don’t share with your SME the stuff you’ve written about their topic at this point. Instead, listen to them for fresh ideas that make everything newer and better. If you stick to the old stuff, there is no point in hiring an SME.
* Provide Regular Feedback – The point of the feedback you give your SME is to praise them for their knowledge and time. Also, explain in your own words what you’ve learned from them and ask them if what you’re saying is correct.
Now that we’ve discussed how to work with an SME, do some research to figure out what the next product you want to create is, so that you can wow your audience even more than you already do.

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