By Jessica R. Key
The key to staying abreast of developments in your industry is to remain a lifelong learner. One obvious path is to enroll in classes, but there are other ways you can boost knowledge of new trends and best practices and maintain your professional edge. Following is a list of ways to stay on the path to learning.
Have a plan
Since every person has value, it’s essential that you know what yours is. Before you do anything, get clear on what talents, strengths, skill sets and connections you can bring to the table and most importantly, what you can build upon. Map out what you want to learn and the best way to do it.
Join professional organizations
Professional organizations sometimes offer courses, seminars and/or lectures to keep members up to date on the latest industry innovations, research and trends. Staying informed on your industry’s trends will only help you in the long run and will keep you one step ahead of the competition.
When practicing proper networking, you should forget your personal agenda. Your goal should be forging connections between people who may be able to help you and vice versa. Never dismiss anyone as unimportant. They may have valuable connections or knowledge you’d never learn from “important” people. Lastly, figure out how to be useful to someone else.
If going back to a traditional classroom is out of the question, try seeking a certification or credential. Certifications and credentials are becoming increasingly more important to clients. It shows commitment to growth and a measurable knowledge base. Institutions such as Ivy Tech and Harrison College have done well in identifying certifications and credentials that connect with high-demand occupations in Indiana.
Recruit a mentor
It’s great having someone to turn to when things get rough. Especially when that someone is a person who was once where you are now. Someone who learned the secret to success – and is willing to share it with you!
Learn outside of the box
You don’t have to constantly “take action” in order to learn something. For example, you may need to take a break from your work. This may sound counter intuitive, but it really can do you and your business a world of good to step away from your office. Your mind works in mysterious ways. Learning something sometimes works better when you aren’t consciously trying. You can also do small things such as subscribing to magazines that relate to your industry or take classes that have nothing to do with your job field. Who knows, learning how to fly fish could help your strategizing skills at the office.