Investing your time in new topics

I’ve run and attended hundreds of business and tech events. It’s been a pretty intense run of learning, sharing, connecting.

The learning part is the most fun for me, especially when it comes to topics where I have had limited previous exposure. As a technology marketer and strategist, I often have to quickly become conversant in new technology or business topics. Once I get over assumptions that the topic is too complicated, too specialized for me to ever understand at a practical level, I use a three phase approach to “get smart” on the topic. Maybe this approach will work for you.

Phase One: Overexposure. I attend meetups or find a webinar or podcast on the subject. Then I find another, and another. I write some notes, but mainly my goal is to hear the vocabulary and try to put the key phrases together in a logical manner. I don’t treat it like I’m studying for a test. I just want to expose myself to the experts in the field, hear their interests and biases and stories so that I can plant key bits of knowledge into my own head.

Phase Two: Talk to Experts. Once I’ve gained some basic vocabulary and ideas, I find experts and try to have a conversation with them at their level. This can be a little bit intimidating, but I’ve found that most experts are eager to share their knowledge. Don’t be embarrassed if they correct you on an idea or a pronunciation – that’s what you’re looking for. Talk to as many experts as you can.

Phase Three: Talk to Friends and Colleagues. This is the critical phase and will really test your newfound expertise. Over coffee, cocktails, dinner, or a walk with a friend, tell them what you’ve been learning. Try to focus on practical examples of how this technique or technology was helpful, saved money, time, etc. If they don’t understand it, you need to do more homework. Talk to another friend, hopefully with a refined version of the story. Maybe write a blog post, or find a blog post you like and re-post it on social media with a short statement on why you agree (or disagree) with the writer. The point here is to become fluid in the way you discuss the topic.

So that’s my technique. If you get a chance to try it out I’d love to hear how it worked for you. If you’ve got your own technique for learning new topics quickly, please share. Good luck!

Speaking of topics where we could all be smarter, there is a really interesting meetup coming up next Tuesday (3/20/18) on Branding and Intellectual Property. It’s called Buttoned Up Branding,” and it will be led by Wes Whitmyer, managing member at WHIPgroup (also known as Whitmyer IP Group.) WHIPgroup has great new office space at 600 Summer Street in Stamford. The event is free and will include networking, snacks and drinks. Register here.

Wes has spent decades in the world of IP and has helped many large and small companies with copyright and patent strategies. When WHIPgroup started, Wes and his colleagues had the opportunity to do everything right from an IP point of view. It’s an interesting story and I hope you’ll join us. See you there!

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