Alright, so you’ve decided to branch out and you may be wondering what else you can do to help things along. You can always try your friendly neighborhood blog or message board, but there’s always the problem of whether or not you’re getting good information.
You should also check to see if your company has any eLearning resources (a lot of larger organizations do). If they don’t have anything or it doesn’t cover what you’re looking for, look into a service like Safari online, Pluralsight, or CBT Nuggets. They all have a subscription based service that offer access to their entire libraries. I personally have Safari Online and it’s a great resource, but I managed to get in while they had a special; while one of my co-workers loves Pluralsight. It’s a preference thing as well as a cost thing. You may even be able to get it expensed, depending on your management. In my opinion though, there’s a much better route to take.
Talk to your co-workers.
Seriously, that’s it. Your co-workers are the single greatest resource you can tap to expand your knowledge base. (I know it sounds crazy, but stick with me.) Now if you work in a smaller organization and already wear many hats, then you’re ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, you’re also lacking in those resources, so while you can use those options I mentioned above, there is another option that I’ll get to shortly.
So those co-workers of yours are hopefully highly experienced and know their jobs well. You should start small. If you’ve got a multifaceted project, how about scheduling some sit down time with one of the other subject matter experts (SME) and try to understand their part of it and how it ties into the bigger picture? Getting the requirements of a project is obviously a basic step, but understanding the WHY of those requirements will really broaden your horizons. You’ll find that most individuals like it when people show an interest in what they do, and are more than happy to share their insights. Why not setup a lunch and learn and get a little cross training? The more willing you are to share knowledge; the more willing other folks are to do the same.
So what do you do if you’ve either annoyed your co-workers to the point of exhaustion or you don’t have any SME’s to leach knowledge from like an alien brain sucker?
Expand your network. Look for local meet-ups or user groups. Branch out and get to know other professionals around you. A lot of the time they do shop talk presentations or latest trends or a project they’ve been working on, and you tend to get a lot of good insight into other areas of the IT world. Meetup is an excellent way to find a local meet up group, and if you don’t find one, try starting one up!
The fact of the matter is that, your peers are the single best resource in expanding your knowledge base. They are going to have the experience to not only clue you in on the big stuff that’s covered in books, but the granular detail you only get from honing your craft.
These are just a few of the ways you can start branching out and learning about the different facets of the ecosystem you’re working in. Feel free to share your thoughts or additional tips about where you like to head when you want to know more about areas outside your expertise.