Your boss has the job you want. He’s successful, respected, and a great teacher and mentor. Watching and learning from him is all you need to be successful, right?
Not necessarily. Even the very best in their field can fall victim to the “this is the way we’ve always done it” syndrome. Being the best takes a lot of work, which is why the superstars are often so focused on doing what they do that they miss what’s coming. Your boss may know everything about the state of the industry today, but does he have time to think about what’s over the horizon?
Right now, before all of the responsibility is on your shoulders, is the time to establish your strategy for keeping up with what’s going on in the industry. This is important for two reasons. First, you can make your boss look good by tipping him off on the latest trends. Second, if he leaves, you can make your mark by changing things up. So how do you do it? Through social media. Here’s how:
- If you’re not on Twitter, you should be. Twitter lets you set up streams based on search results. For instance, if you’re in retail, you could set up a stream for #retail, another for #marketing, one for #customerservice, one for #employeetraining…really, anything you can think of that pertains to your industry. Twitter may limit you to 140 characters, but those 140 characters can clue you in on what people are talking about…and who’s doing the talking. It’s a great way to identify thought leaders. These are the people who are always aware of (if not driving) the changes that are coming in their niches. Once you know who they are, you can follow them on Google+ and other social networks.
- Speaking of Google+…their “communities” are kind of like “streams” on Twitter without the 140-character limit. You can do a search for a keyword that pertains to your industry, and Google+ will give you a list of communities that are talking about it. Some require approval for membership; some don’t. Even if they do require approval, you’ll be fine as long as you’re not spamming. Once you’ve found these communities, you can use them to take the pulse of your industry.
- Google+ also lets you create “circles” of people whose posts you want to see. And, unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, you don’t need the other person’s permission to add them to your circles. So once you’ve identified some thought leaders on Twitter or other social networks, you can search for them on Google+ and add them to your circles. You’ll see all of their posts, which can give you a lot of insight into what’s coming next.
- Never underestimate the power of engagement. Whether it’s retweeting or commenting on a Google+ post, engaging thought leaders with thoughtful comments is a great way to add to your network. (By the way….”great post” is not a thoughtful comment! Say something worthwhile.) The more engagement you have with thought leaders, the more insight you’ll have into what’s going on in the industry.
- Don’t forget that, in most cases, you have two relevant industries: your field, and your company’s business. For example, if you work in marketing for a retailer, you’ll want to keep tabs on developments in both marketing and retail.
You may have the most awesome, skilled, knowledgeable boss in the world, but those people are usually too busy to keep up with what’s coming next; they’re too focused on what’s happening right now. Now, when you’re just starting out, is the time to plug in to what’s going on. If you do, in a few years, you won’t have to follow the thought leaders, because you’ll be one.
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