Being current… an important lifelong objective of one’s career. But what does being current really mean? Is being current enough in the fast-paced business world today? On balance you need to be current at a minimum and leading edge on at least a few topics.
Being current as an ongoing state is no small feat. You have to read frequently and regularly a variety of publications (online and off) from a variety of authors, journalists and bloggers. You need to go out and talk to people both online and off to hear thoughts, perspectives and spot early trends. Participating in conversations is crucial to staying current. These conversations can also help you with feedback and information to help you hone your point of view on the topic at hand. And yes, you need a point of view that is informed and has a spin of some sort that is uniquely your own. Being current will at least make you interesting and help you get by. In your career this will keep you in-the-hunt as they say from a talent perspective but may not set you apart when the competition is tough.
Being leading edge involves being current overall plus choosing one or a small number of specific topics where you seek to be an expert or at least more of an expert than the average person. To do this you need to have more to your point of view – you need theories, possibilities and insights into the what’s next or what could be next. You need to paint a picture for people, hear their perspectives and help them reshape their thinking with the new information you provide. You also want to connect with other leading edge people in your topic of choice to help you shape your perspectives as well. This creates differentiation for you and a memorable uniqueness that sets you apart from the pack. This is what will garner you a higher salary, fee or other compensation. Being leading edge will also help you create a rewarding network of people in your life – something that is far more valuable than any monetary amount.
The trick here is not trying to be leading edge on everything. Besides being exhausting to attempt, no one likes a know-it-all. Increasingly in the digital age with communications becoming more casual or human-sounding, you need to be an approachable expert. Authenticity and approachability are differentiators in addition to the topic you’ve chosen. Be real; connect; be yourself. Put it all together and you master the currency of being current.