Become an expert in your industry by following relevant blogs

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When you run a small business, it can be easy to become insulated. You are so busy dealing with problems specific to your company that you might lose track of what's going on in the outside world. No matter what it is that you do, your industry is changing and you need to stay current if you want to find new opportunities.

One of the easiest ways to keep up with everything going on is to read blogs focused on your industry. For example, since my focuses are entrepreneurship, programming, design, and marketing, I read blogs about all of those topics. This means that whenever there's important news or a new trend that might be able to help my business, I know about it immediately.

But just reading blogs isn't enough. A while back I explained how to use an RSS reader to aggregate all your content, and I strongly recommend that you start reading both personal, and industry news with your reader.

There are main reasons why this is a great way to stay up to date. The first one is obvious, RSS readers bring information directly to you so that you don't have to go out and look for it all the time. When your schedule is hectic, it's hard to find time to read (sometimes boring) articles about your industry, but it's pretty easy when you can skim the headlines in your RSS reader to find the posts you really want to read.

The other reason this can be a great strategy is that it allows you to mix business reading into your personal reading. Some people might be horrified by this idea, but I like having one universal feed with all the content I want to read. I see blogs about my personal interests (sports, gadgets, etc) in the same stream as posts that I should read to help me professionally (design, software, marketing, etc). This keeps the reading a lot more fun and makes it more likely that I read the boring business posts since they're surrounded by entertaining personal posts.

Obviously if you prefer to separate business and pleasure, you can just keep two separate feeds, but I encourage you to at least give it a shot and see how you like it.

If you're interested in reading blogs about your industry but you're not sure where to start reading, there are a ton of great resources. Obviously you can just do a Google search for relevant keywords, or you can browse blog directories like Technorati.

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