Excellent article, Lauren. Today, everyone has to think like a professional and continue developing for their own value not only because some employer is paying them to learn or will reward them if they master new skills. As "free agents" everyone has to think how to increase their knowledge and enhance their value to both themselves and future employers by making a personal investment. This may include an investment of time as you described activities like reading and corresponding as well as participating in courses, asking for assistance to learn new skills, networking to increase your visibility and be accessible to future hiring managers and more proactive steps to promote yourself rather than depending on your company to open doors for you or pull you up the ladder. I would like to discuss these ideas with you. Please get in touch! DebraFeldman@JobWhiz.com. Everyone should Network Purposefully(tm). The benefits are obvious- access to hidden jobs, mentoring support, staying informed, etc.
But instead of defaulting to your guilty reading pleasures, challenge yourself to stay on top of current events and incorporate industry news into your daily routine. OK, it’s not part of your job description, and probably won’t come up in your annual performance review, but keeping up with industry news can make you a more valued employee, increase your personal branding, and, if job searching, make you a much more competitive candidate.
Not sure you can take on such a commitment? You’ll be surprised to find out just how easy it is to incorporate industry news into your day.
Find a Time
Just like starting a new fitness regimen, blocking out time on your calendar for catching up on industry news is your best bet to making it a habit. You just have to find the right strategy for you and your schedule.
1. All in One Sitting
A common way to get your news in is to set aside a solid chunk of time each day.
If you’re a morning person, take some time to read while you sip your coffee. Or, if you typically take a mid-day break, swap out your online shopping spree with a trip to your favorite news source. Your wallet and your boss will thank you.
Once you have some time set aside, you’ll need a regular source of new material. A great way to get your news in one chunk is to opt in to daily or weekly digest emails from sites you visit and trust (like The Daily Muse!). Most sites send out their emails at the same time each day, so you can plan your reading time accordingly.
Another option is to subscribe to a newspaper or journal that you’ll look forward to receiving regularly. Many employers will cover the cost of relevant subscriptions, like The Wall Street Journal or Advertising Age, so before you break out your wallet, inquire within.
2. In Small Doses
If you prefer to get your news throughout the day, that’s doable, too—it just requires a bit more discipline (and a few less Facebook checks). The trick is to make sure you have a constant stream of articles so that whenever you find yourself with a minute to spare, you have reading material available.
If you already have a list of go-to sources, like Forbes or Bloomberg, set up a free Google Reader account to aggregate your top stories in one place. Prefer to peruse via Twitter? Use the list feature to follow work-related news sources and industry professionals without having to sort through your friends’ Instagrammed brunch photos.
If you’re not sure where to start, let LinkedIn do the dirty work for you. You can follow industries like public relations or online media; then, the LinkedIn editorial team will curate top content from an array of trusted sites. Basically, it eliminates the need to select specific sources to follow as you would on Twitter or Google Reader.
3. While You Commute
If you have a long commute, take advantage of it! With access to tablets and smartphones, it’s easy to get your news fix anywhere—even underground. Apps like Google Currents, Flipboard, and Editions by AOL offer customizable magazine-like content that you can use to collect relevant industry articles and read on the go.
For subway commuters, it’s best to select an app with offline reader capabilities, like Pulse, which allows you to select content sources by category, save and email articles, and share stories via multiple social networks. Bonus: It’s free and incredibly user-friendly.
If you commute by car or foot, skip the reading and opt for a pair of earphones. Load up your iPod with podcasts and industry related radio shows. In addition to Apple’s iTunes, many major news networks, like Reuters and NPR, have libraries full of podcasts.
Sharing insightful and relevant news is as important as consuming it. When you come across a pertinent article, don’t hesitate to email it to your boss, employees, or colleagues. You’ll benefit others by sharing great advice and knowledge, and you’ll demonstrate that you know (and care about) what’s going on outside your cubicle.
Reposting articles on social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn, or bringing up what you’ve read about in networking conversations, is also great for personal branding. If you make a habit of sharing great content with other professionals in your field, you’ll soon develop a reputation for being a leading resource. Just make sure you read articles in their entirety—you always want to be confident about the content you’re endorsing!