What is one unique way to stay abreast of changes in your industry?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Listen to Your Customer Service Team
Odds are, your sales and customer service teams have more direct exposure to your customers (and their aspirations and pain points) than anyone else — so make sure you’re recording and responding to this data frequently. If you stay ahead of your customers, you’ll stay ahead of your industry.
2. Encourage Staff to Discuss Industry Blog Posts
As a business owner, you should already be following blogs and news sites related to your industry. What I like to do is encourage my employees to do the same. Not just the upper management, but every employee. In our meetings, I ask people to share articles they found interesting. The discussion that is formed over these topics can help identify emerging trends.
3. Join Professional Organizations
I believe in experiential learning. Joining professional organizations or groups such as Women in Tech, Advertising Women of New York and NAMIC helps me stay abreast of what’s happening in my industry and helps me stay connected with what other entrepreneurs are doing. Also, don’t ignore the power of partnerships and their ability to give your business an advantage.
4. Build a LinkedIn Feed Centered Around Your Industry
Eventually, most industry insights flow to LinkedIn. Most people tend to see a feed filled with comments from their immediate network. Instead, invest the time in building a feed centered around your industry. Follow the leading companies, thought leaders and research institutes. You’ll uncover insights and connections that you can’t find elsewhere.
5. Go to Accelerators, Incubators or Hackathons
Go to accelerators, incubators or hackathons and see what people are working on right now. They are the ones who are determining the direction of your industry. They are the pulse, so checking in and asking them about what they are making is a great way to stay updated.
6. Read Trade Newsletters From Related Areas
I subscribe to multiple newsletters and each time I read one of these newsletters, I get ideas that can best prepare my company for any potential changes. Think outside the box in terms of what types of newsletters will provide insight — in AquaMobile’s case, we provide at-home, on-demand swim lessons, so I subscribe to newsletters that discuss the on-demand economy and the pool industry itself.
7. Keep an Eye on Recruitment Sites
Recruitment sites are a useful source of intelligence on what competitors and other industry players are planning. The media keeps a close eye on Apple’s recruiting for exactly this reason. At the very least, the capabilities a company is hiring for reveal hints of future plans.
8. Seek Lesser-Known Industry Professionals on Twitter
Nearly every industry imaginable has thought leaders tweeting out the latest and greatest information over Twitter. Also search for lesser-known industry professionals who might be sharing original content and perspectives that aren’t being scooped up by major publications.
9. Set Up Google Alerts
Set up Google Alerts for relevant topics in your field and sign up for email newsletters from publications in your industry. When you have five free minutes, skim through to stay up to date.
10. Be Social in the Industry
I like to attend conventions and product launches in my industry to stay abreast of all the things that are happening this year and the next. Not only is it a good way to see what’s being advertised, but hanging out with a group of all industry people also gives me a chance to hear about plenty of the things that have not made the news yet.
11. Watch Your Competitors Closely
Let your competitors do the work. Watch them closely and follow their communications. They will be doing a lot of the research to be informed of what is going on in the industry and you can benefit from it, too. Sign up for their newsletters or visit them at trade shows. They will have similar challenges as you do and will be sharing their solutions to their audience; be ready to listen.
12. Find Experts, Then See Who They Connect to
I try to follow everyone I can learn from, and I pay a lot of attention to the people and trends that those experts follow, retweet or share. I choose to follow a lot of the people who are retweeted by the thought leaders I like most, and it’s creating a wider and wider net that’s keeping me abreast of changes.
13. Start an Industry Newsletter or Blog
The best way to learn anything is to teach it, and the best way to stay abreast of industry changes is to become the person responsible for synthesizing that information for others. Start a newsletter or blog about your industry with a regular posting schedule, and use that as a forcing function to keep you learning (while helping others).