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Market trends are forces outside of your company that influence what's happening inside the company. Understanding markets is a bit like understanding the weather. You have no control over the weather itself but you can control whether or not you're prepared for it. By taking a look at the weather forecast for the day, you'll know if you need to bring an umbrella. It's the same with your career. By taking just a few minutes on a regular basis to understand the market weather, you'll be prepared for things that catch other people unaware.
I'll help you create a simple program to stay up-to-date with things that are going on in the market. There are three resources that you can use in creating that program. The first resource is trade magazines. These are magazines that are created specifically for the industry that you're in. If your company builds computer software, for example, then these would be magazines specifically related to software development. Trade magazines are such great resources because they are focused on your industry, and bring together the most important, relevant stories to your company.
For a small cost, sometimes even for free, you can get the benefit of all the hard work and research that others have done to anticipate trends in your industry. I recommend that you subscribe to one or two of these trade magazines and then spend time regularly reading the stories. A second resource to use is industry conferences and seminars. Like trade magazines, these events are highly focused and give you a great amount of knowledge in a short period of time.
These events also provide the benefit of discussion and debate with others in your industry, which can lead to greater insight. Try to find a budget and schedule that works for you to regularly attend these events. The third resource is online experts, which could be the social media, web sites, blogs or podcasts. Identify a few experts that you trust, who you can follow to gain more knowledge and insight into your area of expertise.
Like trade magazines, the information that they provide will be highly focused and usually relevant to your industry. Be aware that an online expert generally has free reign with their opinions and may speculate more and be a little less cautious in their assumptions than a trade resource. However, the very act of challenging those ideas as you think about them can be valuable in developing your knowledge and understanding of market trends. As you continue to gain knowledge from these sources, I suggest creating a reminder in your calendar to think for 15 minutes, once per month, about this question.
Where are things headed in my industry? This simple and powerful question will give you ideas and insights into actions you can take to anticipate market trends. You may even want to get together with a group of people in your industry to discuss that question. Whether you consider the question with a group or independently, by studying the forces affecting your industry, you'll be prepared for the market weather that catches other people unprepared and take another step toward becoming savvy.
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