A copywriter I recently met at a networking event told me he needed to learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make himself more competitive.
We exchanged business cards, and he soon followed up asking if he could take me to lunch. I accepted, and when we met I gave him an overview of SEO and getting started. I was impressed that he took the initiative to learn a new skill.
The workplace is constantly changing and if you want to stay on top of your given profession, you’ll have to learn new skills. Finding creative ways to bring new ideas from adjacent fields into what you do every day will make you more marketable, whether you are aiming for a promotion or want to change careers.
Even if you feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start, just take the first step. Here are a few ways to get going.
- Go to networking events. If there is a skill you want to learn, then start meeting people who are doing it every day. It’s okay to say that you are a beginner, and ask for their recommendations. Getting out there and talking with people will reduce your learning curve significantly because they’ll direct you to the right resources. I’m a big fan of MeetUp.com, which facilitates local meetings–most of them free–of people who share an interest.
- Offer to buy lunch or coffee. Once you connect with a person you feel is an expert, then take a chance and invite them to meet. My new friend offered to buy me lunch so we could talk in more depth about what he wanted to know. Usually at networking events you are trying to meet as many people as possible, so a follow-up coffee or lunch is a great way to get your questions answered.
- Pick somewhere to start and just do it. There is wealth of knowledge on any topic you might want to learn. Pick just one thing and build on that. I advised the copywriter, for example, to incorporate SEO factors into the writing he’s already doing so that he can practice and see how it works. This is more manageable than trying to learn a whole new field before even applying it.
- Persevere with it. We’re all busy and it’s easy to prioritize other things, but you should stick with acquiring a new skill for at least a month. Once you are comfortable with the new skill then move onto the next one and keep improving.