Finding it hard to stay on top of technology in your industry? Don't feel bad - it is a common problem. To help you out, here are some tips to keep you informed. Some are familiar and some may be new to you.
*Books and magazines - Yes, these are still good ways to stay current. However, magazines will have fresher information than books. Just receiving new magazines will not get you the information. You need to schedule time to read them too. It can be hard but you will thank yourself when know the latest trends.
*Training - Research the training opportunities that will best fit your position. Most companies set aside money to cover training. Put in your requests early so funds can be budgeted for your training. You can find most training opportunities on the Internet.
*Weekly update meetings - You probably already attend weekly staff meetings. Your department can also schedule monthly or bi-monthly technology update meetings. Each person is responsible for bringing a piece of new information. It can save everyone the time of having to read the same magazines. You can expand beyond your department to include other technical staff so updates cover a broader spectrum.
*The Internet - The Internet has many great sites like TechTarget.com that offer information on your industry. Take time to visit these sites weekly to stay current just as you would read a magazine. It is often easier to visit a web site to find new information than it is
* Online courses - Something new is web-based training. You sign up for a course and take it in your own time without traveling. These courses can consist of viewing a taped instructor online or logging onto a live session. In some cases, it is a written course where you review the material, take a test and do homework. Some places to visit include www.Learn2.com, www.Learn2University.com, and www.digitalthink.com. TechTarget.com offers innovative Web-based training courses. Please visit our training library at http://link.mindleaders.com/e-learn/default.asp?associd=TECHTA001
* Online college courses - Many colleges are now offering online courses. These courses operate similar to the online courses described above. However, you earn college credit too. You can earn a bachelor's, master's or even a doctorate's degree online. Do a search for the college of your choice.
*In-house training - Besides traveling and online training, you can have training consultants come in-house. In addition, the professionals in your company can take turns holding in-house trainings to keep everyone up to date.
Keep in mind that however you do it, it is important to stay current. Your company depends on you to know the latest in your field and to make recommendations based on industry trends. New information can also help you solve problems quickly or avoid them all together.
Shari Brennan (email@example.com) is a freelance technical writer and training consultant who has been writing professionally for over ten years. She contributes to many print and online publications addressing Internet, technological, marketing and financial subjects.
This was first published in March 2001