No matter what you study, Monday-Friday classes rarely fully prepare you to tackle the real world. And because of our changing technology, staying relevant in the classroom becomes harder every day. This is especially true for anyone interested in marketing, communications, or entrepreneurship.
According to the most recent IBM C-Suite study, most marketers agree that changing technology is the single most important force shaping marketing. From the rising importance of “big data” to the estimated 26 billion Internet of Things devices we’ll have by 2020, the gap between the skills that marketers have and the skills they need is growing faster than ever.
“Big data, web analytics, mobile, content marketing and social media are the future of marketing but they are also the most difficult skills for which to recruit. This presents a challenge for both marketing employers and educators.”
Thankfully, if marketing, communications, or entrepreneurship interests you, a plethora of online resources exist to help close this gap. As you seek out these opportunities and learn more, you’ll be able to impress a job recruiter, be more prepared to undertake your own venture, and practice your ability to adapt to our changing world.
Here are a few tips to help you start to learn more relevant skills, get a leg up on your peers, and become a better entrepreneur.
1. Enroll in an online course
Taking an online lecture series is a great starting point for self-education. Some courses even offer reputable certifications that you can attach to your LinkedIn profile and resume, such as this Inbound Certification through HubSpot, one of the leading SaaS companies for inbound marketing and sales.
I love HubSpot’s Inbound Certification not only because of how important Inbound Marketing is, but because of the scope of the material and it’s annual update. Oh yea, and it’s free.
There are many marketing, communications, and entrepreneurship books that inform while providing humor and spurring critical thinking. Inbound marketing in particular has a growing number of books which engage, entertain, and add value to your self-education.
A great example is Everybody Writes by Ann Handley, which is a guidebook to creating killer content. Through the author’s casual writing style and use of current examples, this book quickly becomes relevant to anyone writing content in a business setting: from social media interns to professional copywriters.
However, if you prefer to ease into marketing and entrepreneurship books, I’d suggest reading books chronicling the adrenaline-filled stories of well-known entrepreneurs. I enjoyed reading Start Something That Matters by the founder of TOMS shoes as well as Mission In A Bottle by the founders of Honest Tea. Both books highlight the strategies and humorous moments in the early days of startups.
3. Constantly network online
Thanks to social networks, it has never been easier to connect with those with similar personal and professional interests. For students, Twitter and LinkedIn offer a simple way to get a foot in the door with industry professionals.
Leveraging social networks is especially important in marketing because a best practice is to continually engage around content. This provides opportune moments to learn from others’ content, add input, or just say thanks and keep your personal brand alive.
Learn more, sooner.
With a little initiative, students can close the gap between their education and the skills they need to succeed. Not only will those self-taught individuals have more skills as they join the workforce, but they will also be able to better adapt throughout their career.
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