Elevate your career by seeking out new learning opportunities. These simple ways to gain insight from industry experts can expand your skills.
So you just started a blog, launched your side hustle or began . You’re eager to learn quickly so your new project can springboard your career onto bigger and better things.
But sometimes you just get a little stuck. Sure, you know how to Google as well as the next person. But the answers aren’t always there. It may be time to try a new approach to learn best practices in your industry and sharpen your skills. ( to Tweet this thought.)
Follow this four-step process to find the answers you want and need: , reach out and ask them to share their best practices, publicize these results online, then incorporate the tips and strategies into your business or career.
To be clear, this process isn’t about using people — it’s about creating a mutually beneficial situation. You’ll not only find the information you need, but also help those who help you to reaffirm their expertise and build their personal brand.
1. Find the experts
If people in your immediate network can’t help you, seek experts out online or through your connections.
Recently, I wanted tips on email marketing, specifically by and for entrepreneurial women who run their own brands. I couldn’t find the information I sought online. So I connected with savvy women through my business and my site to find the answers I needed.
In my experience, these great resources can help you find experts:
- : This powerful tool by SEOMoz searches Twitter bios by keyword and location. It’s more robust than Twitter’s own built-in search.
- : LinkedIn’s sophisticated search feature is especially useful because it incorporates the skills section from people’s profiles. Try using quotation marks around your search term for more fine-tuned results.
- Search engines: Use advanced Google search (for example, Boolean operators like “and” and “or” narrow your search) to find more fitting results.
- : Designed for journalists and bloggers, SourceSleuth is a free service that helps you find sources and experts. Just fill out a form describing who you’re looking for, and they’ll do the research and get back to you with someone who can help you.
Having trouble finding the email addresses of the experts you want to reach out to? Ask directly on Twitter (this is surprisingly effective), use this or ask someone to introduce you on LinkedIn.
2. Get answers
Now it’s time to reach out. Here’s a tried-and-true email template you can use:
Hi so and so,
I wanted to reach out because I’m a huge fan of your work. I particularly liked [recent blog post or tweet, etc.].
I’m writing an article that incorporates advice from [category of experts you’re reaching out to] about their best practices on [topic you want to learn about]. Would you be willing to share some of your tips and suggestions?
I’ll be compiling the results into a [format you’ll distribute the information in] on [your blog or website name] and would be sure to include a link to your website. [Name of well-respected industry thought leader] and [name of person you know they respect] are already on board as well.
Thank you so much in advance — I’m really looking forward to learning from you!
3. Publicize your learnings
Remember how we talked about this being a mutually beneficial arrangement? Time to put that into practice!
Compile the wisdom you gleaned from industry experts. (if you don’t already have a blog, this is yet another reason to create one), work with a designer to create an infographic or review the tips on your podcast.
If you don’t have a strong online presence with a big following, consider pitching to a larger site or blog. By guest posting on other sites, you’ll get a byline and will provide exposure for the experts who helped you — which means they’ll be more likely to help you out again in the future.
However you choose to distribute your findings, make good on your promise to publicize them or you risk burning bridges.
4. Apply what you learned to your own career
Knowledge is useless if it’s not applied. Incorporate your newfound knowledge and best practices into your work.
Make a list of immediate action items and complete them. Make it your goal to hold off on compiling another list of best practices until you’ve applied these.
Here’s to learning!
is a fanatic, Starbucks loyalist and volunteer enthusiast who offers digital marketing consulting, career and business coaching and productivity seminars through . She also runs , a resource site and community for female solopreneurs and freelancers.