In the trenches of running our businesses day-to-day, it’s easy to get so busy that we don't pay attention to what’s going on around us. Surrounded by employees, rather than peers we can talk openly to, we can become isolated and feel out of the loop.
You may be on top of what’s going on in your business, but are you aware of the latest developments in your industry? Here’s how to make sure you don’t become extinct.
Start with a purge
Go through the industry magazines, websites and communities you currently use to keep up with news. Purge the ones that are no longer useful – cancel the subscription, delete the bookmarks and unsubscribe to the e-mails.
Add some new sources of information. Ask your colleagues, partners, friends and clients to recommend their favorite sources of industry news. To get an even bigger picture, expand beyond your industry for information sources in your customers’ and prospects’ industries, as well.
Narrow the firehose
You can’t keep up with the onslaught of information unless you curate it. Funnel the key information you need to the forms that work best for you – e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds, content aggregators – whatever you prefer. (“What works for you” is key here. I spent hours setting up an RSS feed three years ago that, to this day, I’ve never looked at again. For me, e-mail and Twitter are the best delivery systems.)
Speaking of Twitter, social media is a great way to keep up on industry and general trends. In addition to your business contacts, be sure to follow companies or people in your industry. Join or start LinkedIn groups related to your niche. You’ll get lots of new ideas this way and hear a surprising amount about what others are doing.
Going exclusively online for your information can lead you down a rabbit hole. With retweets, reposts, likes and blog comments, you can start to feel that your world is shrinking to 10 people who simply repeat each other over and over. That’s when it’s time to get out in the real world.
Grab your calendar and schedule lunch, coffee or breakfast with four industry contacts you haven’t talked to in a while. One person per week adds up to a lot of new ideas (and energy).
Expand your circles
Pick one new industry event or organization you’ve never been to and attend it this month. Use your networks to find two people you’ve never met, but want to. Get introduced to them and connect this month – preferably in person.
The more you’re out there and the more sources of information you have, the more you’ll learn about what’s new, what’s working and what matters in your industry. Bonus: You’ll stay energized and excited about your business.
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