WRITTEN BY: KATHRYN OLIVIERI
If you want to be the best in your field, the responsibility is yours. Whatever field you decide to pursue, you are in charge of what you choose to learn and not learn. The more you learn outside of your workplace, the more opportunities that you will have to better your skills and performance. We posted earlier this year about ways you can learn from your coworkers. Today we are going to talk about ways that you can continue to learn on your own.
Ask Yourself Some Questions:
Before you start finding materials and learning, there are questions that you should ask yourself:
1. What are your goals?
Everyone has career goals. Maybe you’ve never sat down and written them out, but you’ve thought about them. What do you want to do and what do you need to learn to get you there? The answers to these questions will help you pursue the right kind of material to learn from.
2. Who is the best in that field?
Now that you have decided what you are interested in learning, it is time to do some research. See who is at the top of the fields that you are interested in. For example, if you want to learn about business or leadership, look into which commentators are read and quoted most often. Look at the authors of articles that you enjoyed, and work from there
Take these names and go to the resources below to find information created or taught by these individuals. Learn from them a little bit every day. You don’t have to agree with everything each person says. Chances are, you are going to disagree with something. But if that person is the top in their field, 9 times out of 10 there is something you can learn from them.
Places and Ways to learn:
I know this one is extremely surprising, but there are some new resources for books beyond the usual ways of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the library. Here are a few that might be of interest:
- Overdrive: Overdrive is connected to local libraries across the country. You can search and “rent” books digitally as long as you have a library card. These books can be read on a Kindle, computer, or your phone. Audiobooks are also available. One awesome feature is that they return the books automatically when your rental ends. No late fees.
- Public Domain Books: After a certain period of time, when a book’s copyright has expired, the books then become part of the public domain. What that means for us is that they are available for free. Here are two places where you can find digital and audio versions of public domain books:
- Audible: If you are interested in audio books, audible is a way to download a more modern book each month for a monthly membership fee. This kind of subscription keeps you from being limited in choosing what books to listen to.
2. Online Courses & Webinars
There are some great organizations and websites that provide free or low-cost online courses
- Coursera: At Coursera, you can take classes that are currently offered at universities around the world. These classes have many different subjects, and your assignments are graded by real professors. The courses are free unless you want a certificate of completion.
- Lynda.com is a site where, for a monthly or yearly fee, you have the ability to access courses on topics from design, web, business, video, and audio. These courses are highly recommended by professionals who use the site to learn more about a technical skill or program.
- SlideShare: Leaders from different industries make their slideshows for classes and presentations available for free on SlideShare. Some of the categories available are: Art, Health, Medical, Business, Education, Social Media, Auto, Marketing, and Public Speaking.
- Skillshare: Skillshare is a platform with online courses that have a project associated with each course. They believe that people learn better by working through a specific project. As you work through the course, you post the project progress to get feedback from the teacher and your fellow classmates. Many classes are available for free, but more are available if you are willing to pay a membership fee.
- Score: Score is a non-profit that supports small business owners or those considering starting a small business. They have mentoring available for free, and they also provide online courses and webinars at no cost. These courses are largely related to business, but can range from finance to email marketing to customer service.
A lot of the leaders of industries have blogs, but there are also magazines and websites focusing on different fields that have blogs you can follow. I follow a lot of different types of blogs and I am going to share with you a site that I use to keep them all organized: Feedly. You can create different categories on Feedly. I have sections for Design, Marketing, Leadership, and DIY. Each day Feedly populates from the blogs that you’ve attached to each section. You can easily review images and excerpts from the posts and decide whether or not you want to read more. There is also a mobile app!
Like audiobooks, podcasts are a great way to be inspired and learn while you are doing something else. Most podcasts are searchable in iTunes. If you are following a specific person or company, you may find a link to their podcast and podcast library on their website.
Share with us programs or sites that you use to learn and grow your skills and we will add them to our list!