As communication gets faster and trends come and go with barely a blip on the radar screen, it is vital that you find as many ways as possible to keep current with what’s happening in your industry. Who is putting out new products? What are the results of the latest research? Have rules or standards changed? Who is hiring and at what salary? The early bird gets the worm, but how can you be sure that you’re the early bird?
The Board Room in the Lunch Room
Make sure you have access to at least one industry publication. You may receive it from the postman; from a link sent to your e-mail address; or find it under a copy of Sports Illustrated in the lunch room. Read it carefully and thoroughly. Note useful facts mentally or in writing. For instance you may discover that the CEO of a company you’ve always wanted as a client is stepping down and his replacement is “determined to expand.” This might be the chance you’ve been looking for. If you can, read your competition’s newsletter as well.
Join an association, union or club related to your field.
Subscribe to the newsletter. Attend meetings and schmooze with your colleagues afterward. Find some more tips on Networking for the job at:
Go out for coffee or a drink. Casual conversation can reveal more inside information than articles meant for the public. You read about the CEO stepping down, but did you know that the place is now sharply divided between old policies and new? This might affect the way you seek their business.
Visit the Web sites of prominent companies (or even not so prominent). Keep abreast of what they are and are not spending their money on, who is on the way up or down, whether they are expanding or downsizing. Look for patterns and trends. The sites for university schools of engineering, marketing, etc. often publish articles by experts and data meant to help their students get jobs.
Think about key words that will get you good material from the Internet in general. Names of companies and officers are good for a start. Be sure to include names from your competition. Terms unique to your industry will help as will phrases like “trends in [your business],” “projections in [your business],” or the name of a columnist or expert who writes frequently about your type of concerns. Check out blogs. They may or may not be helpful, but you don’t know until you’ve read a couple of entries. They might be a way to peek at public opinion. Check with your network of industry mates for more and better search ideas.
Some Internet services now offer “alerts”. Know more about alerts here .When you sign up, you give them the key words and phrases of which you want to keep track. They will send you an e-mail “alert” when one of these words turns up high on the list of search results (the top 15 or 20). You can ask for the terms in the news, in specific groups or from the Web in general.
Back to School
Your college makes an effective resource. Keep in touch with professors from your major and your dean. It is their job to keep up on the latest from the field, and they may receive reports from within the educational community that no one else has. Alumni who shared your major and are now working in the industry may have a completely different slant on trends and developments than you or your company does, especially if they work in another state or country.
Close to You
Don’t underestimate the value of simply staying alert to the everyday news. Stock quotes, announcements of new products, mergers and acquisitions and the charities and scandals of wealthy corporations are all featured on television and Internet news, as well as in the daily newspapers. Don’t skip over regular newspapers. They often feature important details, commentary by experts, charts and graphs and other information that won’t fit into a sixty-second story on TV, or video clip on the Internet.
There’s great big world of connections and contacts out there. Learn to use it to your advantage. It is easier and more important than ever.