A critical part of any success equation is becoming a student of your craft. No matter what field you choose, and regardless of what you studied in school or what specialty your degree is in, the single most important thing you can do for your career is take responsibility for your professional development. In that regard, the two most important things is to be an avid reader and be curious. These two go hand in hand and frankly are inescapable.
Studying the industry you work in or are interested in is not difficult. A combination of search engines along with other online resources (see the resource section at the end of the book) will provide you with enough information to get started.
Literally type the industry into the search engine and see what pops up. From there you will be able to find a wide range of information including:
- Leading companies in the industry
- Industry leaders and hopefully a link to their LinkedIn profile
- Industry trends and forecasts
- Competitive pressures and threats
How best to put this information to good use? Here are a few helpful tips.
Leading companies in the industry:
What makes the leading companies in the industry, leaders? It can be any or all of the following:
If the companies are publicly traded, meaning they have stockholders, get a copy of their annual report. The report or a link to the report may be housed on the corporate website.
What you want to learn is the overarching philosophy of the company and how their business strategies deliver on that philosophy.
Included in the company overview will be the company’s perspective and policy on diversity, the environment, and how the company actively demonstrates its corporate citizenship, three very important issues that define the character and culture of a company.
Become familiar with the names of the people who are considered industry leaders in your field in general and the company you work for in particular.
- Who are the forward thinkers?
- What points of view do they hold?
- Upon what do they base their conclusions, opinions and theories?
- Why are they highly regarded?
Where do you begin to identify such people?
The trade organizations and publications for the industry. Almost every industry has a trade organization and /or a trade publication. Identify both for your field and related fields as well and read them regularly.