A good exercise is to get an 18% gray card, put it on your subject, and set your exposure to that. (Your spot meter assumes it's being pointed at a monochromatic object that reflects 18% of the incident light.) Obviously this only works in the studio or some other well-controlled area, but with a little practice you can start picking out objects in your field of view that have the right tonality.
That's how we did it back in the day, when a spot meter was the only choice. Nowadays it's easier and more accurate to use matrix metering, frame for the picture you want and move the focus/exposure point to the area of interest. The focus point gets more heavily weighted in the exposure calculation than the rest of the scene, so it still takes some practice to get a accurate exposure. In some tricky situations, you might still want to focus on one spot and expose on another. I have the AEF/AEL button set to AEF so I can lock focus and expose by pressing halfway down on the shutter release, or do both together with the shutter release.
As with all Nikons, if you're using this method in high contrast situations it helps to knock the exposure compensation down by .7 EV.
This might sound complicated, but it becomes second nature with practice. Practice is required no matter what method you choose - you just have to pick what works for you.