What if I told you there was a relatively painless way to guarantee both your personal and professional growth?
What if this method required no monetary investment?
What if you could do this in as little as 2 hours a week?
Well, there is such a technique and just about all of us had mastered it by the time we got to second grade: Reading. There is no more sure-fire way to get better at doing your job than by some strategic reading of books, magazines and blogs in your professional area, and all you need is an internet connection or a library card to find some of the most cutting edge material out there.
Not only will you make sure you are up on the most cutting edge research and techniques in your field, you’ll also be better prepared to have the kind of networking conversations, both online and off, that get you noticed.
In order to jump-start your new habit, here are 3 things to keep in mind when reading for career development.
1. Cast a wide net: We live in an age of information. Everywhere you turn there is more written content to take in. If this was 20, or even 10, years ago I would have advised you to subscribe to some professional journals and newsletters and that would be that. However, the internet has birthed a thousand new voices in many fields, both in terms of online writing in web magazines and blogs as well as new books that are supported by those online platforms. Search far and wide for the best material.
2. Be intentional: While all reading is beneficial, if you want to get the most out of your professional reading spend a little time creating a list of what is important in your field. Just because there are thousands of new voices, that doesn’t mean all of them are worthy of your time.
Fortunately there are a lot of tools to help you do this. Search your profession in Amazon and look at the top ten best sellers. These are the books people in your area are reading and talking about, so start here. Some other great tools for online content are Google Blog Search and Technorati. Type in your field and see some of the best blog authors out there discussing your very profession. Make a list of books and sites that are interesting and influential in your profession and make this your reading list.
3. Make it part of your schedule: If you are really going to get the most out of your professional reading you need to be sure it is a regular, non-negotiable part of your week. For those of you who are regular readers this probably will not be a big problem, but not all of us are readers, and that is OK. If you need some motivation to kick-start the habit I suggest penciling in 2 hourly sessions at the local library. This way you have to leave your house and go someplace where distractions are minimal. And if you are going to spend an hour reading- what better place?