A smart person never fills their schedule. Why? Because it’s important to leave a block of time open each day for one of two things to happen: an unscheduled crisis or a time to keep up with market trends. As long as you don’t have too many crises, you should have at least a few hours each week to analyze the industry.

It’s crucial you don’t skip this. I know it’s tempting to just work through these allotted times. After all, you obviously know the industry well. You know it so well you are in demand. But what about tomorrow? What if while you were toiling away, the industry changes and you lose out on the next trend? We all must zoom out every once-in-awhile in order to see what’s ahead. This blog post will show you how to keep up with market trends – even if you’re really busy.

Read Authority Blogs

Each niche has authority blogs. What blogs should you be reading? Find them and keep up-to-date. This is a fantastic way of getting easily digestible information about what is going on beyond your office walls. It also helps to read through the comments section to see who is interacting. They are probably people you should know. Click over to their websites and see what they’re up to.

Network from Home

Wearing pants is overrated. Networking from home can be extremely valuable – especially for introverts. Introverts really do well with online networking. But whether or an introvert or extrovert, it’s something you should do.

This can be done in a variety of ways. One way is just to look through your email contact list once a week and say ‘hi’ to someone you have said ‘hi’ to in awhile. Ask what’s new in their lives. Refrain from speaking about yourself too much. Remember, your mission is to learn.

Another valuable source of at home networking comes in the form of Facebook groups. These can be niche groups, masterminds, conference groups, you name it. If it seems overwhelming – it’s not. Start with a large group that you feel the moderators would easily let you into. From there, you’ll be exposed to similar groups and that’s it – you’re in the club.

Using your favorite social media platform is another great way to stay glued into the industry. Though be careful. You want to make sure you’re gleaning valuable information and not just procrastinating.

Attend Conferences/Work Shops/Lectures

In-person networking is the fastest way to form valuable bonds. Consider spending a small percentage of your annual income on conferences/work shops/lectures and anything else you think may keep you abreast to industry trends. These can be expensive. Though if you make just one good connection with someone or hear just one valuable nugget of advice – the flights, lodging, food will more than pay for itself when you bring the information back to your work.

Pay Attention to Newcomers

I’ve seen people so much as ask people, “Who do you know who’s new to our industry? I want to meet them.” The goal here is to see who’s new and hear about their new ideas. It’s great too because newcomers are always very eager to discuss their ideas and visions with you. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship – they have a new perspective on things and you’re the mentor-like pro.

Not Too Much

It’s important not to focus on others too much. If you do, you may miss what’s happening right in front of you. Stay abreast of industry trends – while not becoming a player from the sidelines – is a delicate dance. But you now know what it takes keep one foot in the present and the other in the future.

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Local Unit Lead for NAACP in Northern California with a mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. I enjoy writing and interviewing people making a difference in the World. Former Assistant Editor NY Times. NYU Alum living in sunny California.

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