4 ways to stay up to date in your industry

When was the last time you did something just to build your professional know-how?

No matter what role or field you work in, staying on top of industry news and trends will help you gain expertise, identify opportunities for growth and give you a competitive edge.

Keeping up to date with your industry doesn’t need to be difficult, though. We asked Leah Lambart, Career Coach and Director of Relaunch Me, for her advice.

Here are some simple strategies you can start on today.

1. Talk to people in your industry

One of the best ways to keep up to date with your industry is to build your network. The idea of ‘networking’ can be intimidating, but it’s really just about talking to and spending time with people who are interested in the same things as you are professionally.

Connecting with a mentor or friend in the same industry allows you to branch out from your own workplace and learn new information from a fresh perspective.

“Learning how other companies approach certain problems and what systems and technology that they are using will allow you to understand what is considered ‘best practise’ in your industry,” Lambart says. Being able to ask questions without judgement is also helpful when it comes to building your knowledge and industry expertise, she adds.

Attend conferences, industry events and online webinars that give you a chance to take in new information and network while you’re at it, Lambart advises. You could also reach out to suppliers, customers and other professionals who work in related fields to get a wider understanding of your industry.

Networking and events can also help you keep up to date with what your competitors are doing and what’s considered cutting edge in your industry,” Lambart says.

“If you’re someone who is aspiring to become a leader in the future, then having a wide network and highly developed commercial acumen skills will help you move towards your end goal,” she adds.

2. Develop your skills with further study

Gaps in your knowledge or skills could be important areas for you to grow. Assessing your skills with what’s called a ‘skill audit’ is a good place to start, Lambart says. A matter of listing down skills you do have, and those you might be lacking or want to grow.

“This will enable you to determine the skills that you’re proficient in and those that are lacking. You can also identify which skills you use often and which you use rarely,” she says.

“You can then work out which skills you need to develop to reach your next career goal and how you will go about doing so.”

A short course can be a great way to refresh the skills you need for your job or learn new skills that can help to advance your career.

“Online and part-time courses are great options as they allow you to keep working while you study,” says Lambart. “You can consider courses to develop your technical skills or to develop soft skills such as leadership, conflict resolution or negotiation skills.”

3. Get in the loop

Subscribe to online trade journals, blogs, magazines, industry webinars and other publications for news and updates delivered straight to you. There are plenty of well-followed and informative independent websites across different fields and industries.

If you’re faced with a lack of time and a cluttered inbox, try getting into the routine of reading through industry emails at the same time each day. It could be first thing in the morning, before you pack up for the day, or during your lunch break.

Social media has become one of the best up-to-the-minute sources of industry news, plus the bite-sized nature of it makes it easy to take in information. Follow experts and industry leaders on channels like Twitter or Instagram to absorb the latest information and opinions while you get your daily social media fix.

4. Read, listen and watch

Broaden out the information you take in by including different formats. Make a regular visit to bookstores for the latest industry publications in print. Your local library is a great way to find reading material for free. Don’t overlook the other formats that libraries offer now – many also have extensive digital, audio and video collections for you to browse.

Lastly, you might be familiar with podcasts across entertainment or true crime. But try searching for your field or industry in your podcast app – you might find a new favourite to listen to on your commute.

“The vast amount of titles out there now spans fields as diverse as plumbing, entrepreneurship, software engineering, medicine, leadership and design, so there’s bound to be a topic worth listening to,” Lambart says.

Staying up to date doesn’t need a great deal of effort or money – the key is to build the habit of doing small things often. By considering your existing connections, and taking advantage of your breaks or commute, you can develop habits to keep you informed and across new trends.

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