Subject Matter Experts – How to Tap into Their Knowledge

If asked, I think my family and friends would claim that I’m astute at being very honest and organized, seeing all sides of an argument, quoting movie lines to many classic 80’s and 90’s movies (Name that movie… “Lane, I’ve been at this high school for seven and half years…I’m no dummie!”), and creating delicious desserts. At work, I think my colleagues would agree that I’m good at those things and also very passionate about technology, social, and making life and business more efficient. So does this imply that I’m an expert on these subjects because I have passion and experience? My self-deprecating nature would say no; however, I do think that passion and experience are the two key foundational elements to be an expert on any topic.

Part of my job at NewsGator is to tap into the expertise of my peers, and I consider my peers to include colleagues, customers, and partners – all of whom share a passion for social. Beyond the everyday knowledge exchange that takes place on our customer and partner Extranet – appropriately called eNGage, we host monthly SMEssions. SME, of course, stands for subject-matter expert. One of my colleagues came up with the name so I can’t take credit for it – but it still makes me giggle almost every time I say it! (Side Note: One of our customers came up with name eNGage for our Extranet. The word truly represents the essence of social, and the NG aptly stands for NewsGator. Thanks again Mike!).

These monthly SMEssions are hosted in a public community on eNGage and the format is similar to a Tweet Jam on Twitter. We use an Idea Campaign for customers and partners to submit topic ideas and vote for their favorites. The most voted-on topic is the one we choose each month and topics have ranged anywhere from community management, to hashtags, to metrics, and so on. Each SMEssion has a moderator – a NewsGator, customer, or partner SME on the topic – that poses questions, polls, and advice to encourage conversations with the diverse NewsGator population on eNGage. It’s amazing to watch the collaboration unfold and learn how each customer and partner uses our product – Social Sites – in cool ways to help their organization and employees be more efficient, happy at work, and ultimately, more successful as a team. It’s truly inspiring!

Once each SMEssion is over, we review all of the valuable contributions to the conversation and create or add them to the appropriate Knowledgebase on eNGage to make sure the content is searchable and becomes a living and breathing piece of information that others can share, edit, and absorb. SMEssion moderators get a special badge for their leadership, and SMEssion contributors get a badge for their participation, input, and eagerness to share.

It’s a simple process with amazing contributions and value – and just one example of how to tap into the knowledge of your experts. Through our human-centric approach to product development, NewsGator’s goal is to continue to make enterprise social software easier and more effective for you to share your knowledge and expertise, ask questions, pose new ideas, and almost anything you can imagine. I couldn’t be more proud and excited to be part of the NewsGator family – an innovative think tank of colleagues, customers, and partners committed to making social a vital component of the way we work together every day!

What examples can you share of how you tap into the knowledge of the subject-matter experts in your organization? What do you do with that knowledge once it’s surfaced? Are you using social technology to accomplish these goals?

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