Technology evolves at a breakneck pace, destroying old jobs and creating new ones overnight. As a result, most of us will have to change jobs and industries at least once. Wouldn’t it be great if we could shorten the painful transition time, and start our new jobs as experts?
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve been through this process multiple times. At my latest venture, Power 20, I build exercise apps for smartphones. It’s really different from my last job as founder of Interview Jet, an e-recruiting site, so I have a lot to learn.
Here’s my plan:
Get Certified. The fastest path to acceptance is to establish a base of knowledge and receive recognition for the effort by a recognized third party. If the cost and time involved isn’t prohibitive, being certified in your new field is extremely useful. In my case, I’ve got to get certified as an instructor by one of the recognized associations (probably the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)).
Read 20 Books. Approach the work as if I’m going to write a PhD-level dissertation. I’ve created a curriculum of 20 books and 20 articles spanning the early history of the field to the latest findings. This exercise alone will separate me from even industry veterans. The key to reading is to never stop.
Blog. By writing a blog about the industry, I’ll force myself to think and write coherently about it. My early content will draw heavily from the books I’m reading. I aim to blog once a week. The blog can be a powerful calling card, drawing in good people. I personally use a WordPress site, but countless options exist.
Attend Meetups. I’m hoping to find like-minded people through Meetup.com. I find the industry-specific meetups that charge to attend to be better than free events. Free meetups attract too many recruiters and life coaches. My goal at each meetup is to have a follow up coffee meeting with at least one person there who has more experience than me.
Take People Out For Coffee. Or tea. Or whatever they like. People are far more likely to extend favors, share information, and open doors when they have met me in person and have developed a real connection. I try to attend one Meetup each month and take someone to coffee once a week. My first goal in taking people out for coffee is to learn about the industry, and my second goal is to find a mentor.
Start Working. Probably the most important part of reinventing myself has been to actually start working in the field. With Power 20, I’m building apps as I develop my expertise in the world of fitness. I’m now exercising twice each day, advocating for health online, and am tweeting through @Power20App.
Each of these steps is easier said than done, and that’s why successfully reinventing yourself in a new industry is so hard. Few people can really do it, and I expect it will take at least a year to reap tangible benefits from my newfound expertise. But the process of learning already feels rewarding.