Keeping Informed in Your Industry
A few weeks ago I was asked how do you keep up with technology and industry updates. I started naming off some resources and then thought that a more in-depth conversation or blog post would help.
Technology is constantly evolving. For this reason, it can be difficult at times to stay up to date with information technology. However, staying informed is important for a number of reasons. In some roles, it’s important to stay on top of industry news and trends – you’ll build your expertise, you’ll command the respect of your team, and you’ll be better placed to identify and take advantage of opportunities. Below are some traditional and new media sources that you can utilize to stay informed.
Your industry may have one or more trade organizations that you can join. These are useful, because they can help to keep you informed with their newsletters and publications, and they provide networking opportunities with meetings and conferences. Face-to-face networking can be one of the most rewarding ways to stay on top of industry news and trends. Often, professional relationships can develop into deep friendships, especially when you meet on a regular basis.
Trade Shows and Conferences
Trade shows and conferences are great for learning about competitors, new products, and industry trends; and they can provide ample networking opportunities. Keep in mind that you have a wide pool of people you can network with. People directly related to your industry are an obvious choice, but so are suppliers, customers, and people working in related fields.
New Media Sources
There is a plethora of industry experts using every social network imaginable. Instead of naming off my favorites to follow, perhaps those not directly related to the design field might find these sources below can help you find knowledge resources in your industry.
Blogs like Alltop and Technorati are blog aggregators that generate all the top headlines from popular topics around the web. You can search for a specific term and get a plethora of news and recent posts that are generating discussion.
Opening up each blog and spending just 10-15 minutes on each one takes a lot of effort and time that most people don’t have. So using a reader like Google Reader or Yahoo Pipes allows you to browse briefly all the blogs you would typically monitor in a day with a quick glimpse. In case you don’t know how to use an RSS Reader here is a good guide. It is matter of what is comfortable for you. Right now, Google Reader is my RSS reader of choice
Twitter and Facebook are excellent tools to follow industry experts and knowledge resources. Searching for specific #hashtags can give you real-time updates.
Social bookmarking is a way for Internet users to share what websites they’re reading. These sites often track trends and news more accurately than news sites themselves. You can see what articles are being read and shared in real time. Social bookmarking can help you stay up-to-date with social media because people bookmark new and interesting news sources as they come out in real time. Check out StumbleUpon, reddit, and Digg.
You spend a majority of time in your day sending emails. Why not get your updates through them! The Google Alerts service notifies you when resources featuring certain words are indexed by Google’s search engine. For instance, if you’re a printing rep, you might want to get notified about articles containing the words “printing industry,” or the names of your clients, your organization and your competitors. You can be notified once a day or as they happen. Links can be contained in one email, or you can get updates via an RSS feed.
The advantage to using Google Alerts is that you no longer have to surf the web looking for industry news. However, you might find that you simply get too much information this way – if this happens, tweak your settings or use a longer keyword-string, such as including a demographic like the city you live in (e.g., “Dayton marketing”).
Making Time and Sharing
The biggest thing I stress, is that it’s your time. Once you’ve identified the best sources to use, you need to schedule time to get the most from them. It’s easy to get information overload, so schedule daily or weekly time to devote to catching up, and be ruthless when it comes to sources of information. Use your best judgment about what you need to know, depending on your role, and your career aspirations. This can be challenging, especially if your day is already filled to the brim with meetings, action items, or daily commitments. But it’s important to create time in your day to devote to staying current, where you need to do this for your job.
In some situations, sharing industry news and trends with your team can create a positive learning environment, and can help everyone to grow professionally. To share information in this way, you could devote the first few minutes of your weekly team meeting to sharing relevant news and information. You could also post articles on your organization’s bulletin board or blog, or in the company newsletter.
Would love to here some of your resources to keep you informed!