Are you somebody’s go-to person? Nothing boosts your personal brand quite like a reputation as an authority in your field. Whether you’re a manager employees depend on, an independent consultant, or a business owner, you want to be that person—the well-informed individual known for having answers at your fingertips.
But let’s face it, many of today’s businesses and industries seem to be changing at light speed. Keeping up with trends and abreast of the information others might need can be tough. It’s not, however, impossible. Here are a few ways you can stay ahead of the curve and grow your expert standing.
Do your homework.
Don’t wait for information to come to you, go out and get it. Read trade journals, visit industry websites, monitor influential bloggers, subscribe to online newsletters, and/or scan prominent social media feeds. Know what’s happening in the market and track world news that might affect your business in the long run. Clearly, you won’t have time to do everything, but survey what’s available and choose those outlets that promise to be the most useful. But remember, information is constantly changing; you can’t afford to rest on what you know now.
Study your competition.
Regularly check out your competition—visit their websites, social media platforms, even subscribe to their newsletters. Maybe they’ve picked up on a trend you haven’t yet, or maybe they’ve missed a trend you have picked up on. What new products or services are they introducing? How are they expanding their client base? You can’t come out on top of the competition, unless you know where they stand at the moment.
Build relationships with your customers.
One of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry is to engage your customers. If you build relationships with your customers, you’ll be positioned to find out what they’re thinking and what they want. Asking for suggestions, responding to constructive criticism, and conducting surveys to find out how their buying or working habits and business needs are changing are terrific ways to anticipate/identify budding trends.
Get out and about, even if you do it online.
Industry conferences and trade shows are excellent sources of information about upcoming industry trends. You can also take advantage of training opportunities, whether specifically geared toward your industry, or geared toward marketing and customer service. Webinars often offer extremely convenient training and information updates, usually complete with online Q&A. Visiting suppliers and fellow professionals and/or joining Facebook discussion groups where you can exchange information and ideas will keep you well informed.
Professional associations are tremendous resources. They keep abreast of trends, industry news, and best practices. They produce informative publications, offer invaluable peer support, and sponsor events that provide premium networking and training opportunities. Plus, the more involved you are with your association, the more likely you are to be seen as a respected expert. Consider serving on the board or conducting a workshop; the experience will pay dividends and bolster your personal brand.