The Importance of Professional Publications

I emphasized this in other writing, and wanted to bring it up again: if you're in a profession you love, OR want that perfect geeky job, you're going to need to read professional publications.  If you're not a pro, you still need to read them – perhaps even moreso.

Professional publications, as dull as some may seem (or as many may seem to be of only tangental relevance to what you do), are important:

  • You get information that is relevant to what you do – even if you have to hunt for it – and it may be things you didn't know are relevant until you saw them.
  • You get the perspectives of fellow professionals from their letters, writings, etc.
  • You get industry news you might not get anywhere else.
  • There's often associated services, from social media to advertised opportuniies, you can use.
  • You often learn of career paths and ideas.
  • There's a chance to network and meet people, from social media, to writing an author who impressed you.

It may be a magazine, blog, e-zine, web page, etc.  Whatever it is, it's imperative that for your professional goals (current or future), you keep up with the publications and make time to read them.  Even if in the end a particular blog or magazine proves worthless, you'll at least know – and know why – so you can focus on other sources of information.

I'd also note that it's important to take time to read these publications (something I'm better at with some publications than others), or at least glance through to see what articles and posts are worth your time.  Its easy to let things pile up (which, yes, I have done).

If you're not sure what to read, go online and do some searches, and/or hit a big bookstore and see what's in the magazine section.  "Test drive" a magazine, some blogs, etc. for awhile and see if they're useful to you.

There's a lot of information out there, and our careers are often filled with surprses.  Staying on top of publications lets you find the good surprises – and avoid the bad ones – and makes you better at what you do.

– Steven Savage