By Kara Masterson
Knowing about your business is a process. You might think that you know everything available because you’ve been in the industry for a long time or because you graduated from one of the top schools in the field. However, industries change. Even when your field hasn’t endured prodigious changes, you should still take steps to stay up-to-date and relevant.
Find a Niche
Within your business, search for your own niche. For example, you may have tailored your skills in the field of mathematics and can help tremendously with budgeting decisions. You may have superior skills when it comes to communication, so you can work with new employees and take charge of major phone conversations. Finding a niche opens the door to learning new knowledge since you are no longer focusing solely on the more general, broader components of the business.
Whether your company hosts seminars or you see them outside of your place of work through opportunities such as Success Path Education, these meetings allow you to both learn and engage with new concepts. In other words, many seminars place an emphasis on listening to lectures or presentations about new material and then having you actually put that material into play. Seminars also allow you to mingle with other people in the field, thereby gaining a sense of how others address similar tasks.
Enroll in Conferences or Retreats
If you want more than one seminar, you can look into a weekend or a week of learning about your field. Conferences and retreats tend to host both educational and social events, so you have the added benefit of networking. During these types of programs, individuals are often reminded of an important fact, the fact that they are working with other humans. Developing new skills in the field is important, but so is building rapport with your colleagues and clients.
Take a Refresher Class
Checking out colleges and universities in your area will likely introduce you to the possibility of taking a refresher course. These courses are often designed for people who have been working in the field and who are looking to gain skills in updated areas. If you are the head of a company, you may want to consider paying for these classes for your employees or offering a pay raise for people who take it.
As an employee, you may feel trepidation about asking people questions. You might think that you are bothering these individuals. While constantly plaguing the same people with questions can become tiresome and irritating, you should not be afraid to pursue your knowledge of the discipline. When you start a new job or project, take the time to write down all of the questions that you have. Then, you can present these questions to the appropriate person at the same time. Doing so also demonstrates that you are motivated and organized.
Bring a Notebook
If you are in the early stages of learning, whether as an employee or an intern, you should take notes. Trying to store all of the information in your mind might fail you, especially when you have so many details being presented to you at one time. Taking notes also allows you to review the notes later. As you’re going through your notes, you may discover that you better understand the material. You can also use the notes to inspire questions to ask when you meet again with your supervisor or as you move through the training.
Industry-specific business knowledge is crucial for success at your job. Having a generalized sense of what the field requires is unlikely to help you move along in the process.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys tennis and spending time with her family.