Ah, the Information Age is so full of … well … information!
Nowadays, it’s fairly easy to become a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and a master of none. We have access to tutorials, encyclopedias, and entire college courses for free at the touch of a button.
So when it comes time to be the Master of One – starting a new hobby, general curiosity, or taking on a new client in an unfamiliar industry – how exactly do you make that happen? How do you weed through all of the nonsense to really understand your subject? And how do you keep your ducks in a row in case someone relentlessly attempts to fact-check you?
Well, I’m here to help!
Reading & Research
I bet you didn’t see Reading & Research coming! With endless information sources, it’s hard to pick where to start. Not to go too psychologist on you, but it all starts by looking within.
You need to have a clear plan of action on what you want to learn, why you are learning about it, and how in-depth you need to go. Then you’ll be able to determine how to use your new-found knowledge to achieve whatever your goal may be.
Once you determine these answers to the best of your ability, start digging through any and all information you can find. You don’t have to consume every word or image you find, but make sure to skim enough to remember where you might find certain topics or bits of information at a later time.
We start every new project at The Web Guys by spending countless hours interviewing our clients, either in person or over the phone. This is when we discover what we need to be researching, how in-depth we need to take our research, what we hope to learn from our findings, and hopefully what we’ll be able to accomplish with the information.
Sometimes “interviewing” doesn’t mean face-to-face conversation. Recently, I spent some time in a stone shop learning about the company’s day-to-day operations and the literal grit and grime that goes into stonework. This was really important for me to genuinely understand how and why my company could help these hard workers — and who our efforts would be impacting the most.
Keep an Eye on the Competitors
I would never tell you to copy exactly what competitive businesses/groups/individuals are doing, but it’s important to understand the “big picture” of what they are doing and why they are doing it.
Try looking at why these actions are working (or not working) for your competitors. What’s going on in the industry and the world around them? Are they taking advantage of major events or seasons? How is their website structured? How is their organization structured? Take all of the things you like from what you learned, put your own creative spin on everything, and apply it all to your situation.
Be Confident in Your Knowledge
After you gather all of the research you possibly can, it’s going to be easy to get lost in your work and forget to digest the right information. It’s important to always keep your goals in mind and your eyes on the prize.
After all, we’re becoming masters of subjects because someone needs us to be their champion. We need to know what we’re talking about. We have to be confident in our new knowledge, and we have to be able to back it up with research.
Nearly every new client brings a new industry for me to research and learn about. Before I started working for The Web Guys, did I know the ins and outs of the car rental industry? Could I tell you about home inspections, auto auctions, motorhomes, or the intricate spectrum of contractor work?
I didn’t know anything about these industries. But because I’ve researched, researched, and researched, I can confidently say I know what I’m talking about now.
YOUR TURN: Do you know what you’re talking about? Take five seconds to leave a comment below and share your tips for acquiring expertise. How did research help get you to where you are today?