I’m always astounded by people who say they aren’t interested in reading.
When people say they don’t have time to read—that I get. There are weeks when I, a childless person working a normal work schedule, realize I haven’t read a page all week, so I completely understand it’s a low priority when people have kids and jobs and and grad school and other responsibilities.
But to not want to read, even when you have the chance? That’s wild to me.
Remaining curious about the world is a crucial part of remaining healthy—more on that here—but staying curious and remaining willing to learn has huge benefits for your career, whether you’re a PR professional or otherwise.
Perhaps most obvious is this: having deep understanding of a topic helps you see it from all angles. It allows you to understand the nuance of a topic. And since solutions often come from an understanding of nuance, having an up-to-date understanding of an issue can help you see and solve challenges on behalf of clients or your own company. When your brain has a sense of the entire issue and is trained to think holistically, you’re able to solve problems in different, more effective ways.
Another reason to keep learning? Confidence. When you know a lot about a subject, and you know you know a lot about it, you speak with authority—and you have a better chance of convincing others to trust you on the subject because you’ve educated them.
Positioning yourself as an expert means people trust that you know what you’re doing (and are willing to put you in charge or promote you). To really be an expert, you need to stay constantly up-to-date on the latest research and innovations about a given topic.
Finding a group of smart people to talk with can make a huge difference, too. For business owners, groups like Entrepreneurs Organization can make continued learning a social gathering.
Lastly—and though this is more a personal benefit, it can also have big effects on your career—continued learning makes you more interesting. When you know about things that others don’t, they want to ask you about it.
So if grad school isn’t in your future, how do you prioritize this continued learning?
First, you make the time for it. Block it off in your calendar. Order the book you’ve been wanting to read on the topic, and actually read it (even during work hours, if it’s a work-related topic!).
Join a learning community—whether it’s online or IRL—to connect with and continually learn from. Having others to hold you accountable mean you’ll actually do the reading and research, and you may even meet someone who can mentor you on an ongoing basis on the topic.
Bottom line: being smart (and well-informed!) is sexy, people.
Related Post: Productivity hacks for PR pros