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You’ve got to adapt in a rapidly changing world to keep up. Here are the 7 most valuable skills you can have.

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As always trying to bring you the marketing trends that matter.
But what good is knowing the marketing trends if you can’t take advantage of them?

This is the digital age folks, and you need to be constantly adapting. The advice I’m going to give you in this week’s podcast is the same whether you’re a graduating college senior or 20-something starting in their new job and asking me what’s important, OR, if you’re in your 30s or heaven forbid 40s like me and want to make sure your skills are current.

So what I’ll tell you all is KEEP LEARNING.

Get out there and take a class – heck, if you can, TEACH a class. I’ve had the honor of teaching a social media class at NYU each fall and I have to say two things:
1) Preparing my lectures really focuses me on knowing the latest information
2) My students were so great and they ended up teaching me so many great things

But if you’re going to take a class, in my opinion, here are the 7 most valuable new media skills you can learn, listed by increasing level of difficulty:

Note: Shorter bullet points are listed here, while I elaborate more fully in the podcast itself.

1. Blogging
Starting a blog is easy. Maintaining a blog is hard. But you’ll never get that far if you don’t get started with post #1. If you’re just starting out, head over to a free service like Tumblr. Whether you simply pick a topic you’re passionate about and just start writing, or lay out a well-planned business strategy with a launch date, getting in the habit of blogging will help you in many areas.

It provides an outlet for creative thoughts, helps people find you or your business on the web, and makes you a better writer and communicator.

Resource: Problogger.net is a great site for those just starting out

2. WordPress
If Blogging 101 starts out on Tumblr or another free service, then jumping to WordPress is like entering your sophomore year. With 25 million accounts, WordPress is the leading platform for bloggers. Sure, it’s also simple to jump in and start writing a post, but a true skill to have is knowing the ins and outs. From customizing your own theme, to adding widgets, moderating comments, tracking analytics, installing plug-ins, optimizing for search engines, and tagging and categorizing posts, there’s a lot more you can learn.

3. Reporting and Analytics
Speaking of analytics, long time listeners know this is one I like to emphasize often. No matter what your industry, dig into the analytics. Whether it’s web page views, email open and click rates, commerce purchases, shopping cart abandon rates, or time spent with video, knowing the numbers behind the numbers will be valuable.

Resource: THR Episode 132: How a ‘Be All, End All’ spreadsheet can help your business and your career

4. Public speaking
Strong public speaking skills can help you in all aspects of life from wedding toasts and impromptu speeches to interpersonal skills. Now, I’m not saying you necessarily have to be on stage in front of hundreds of people. If you’re a very shy person and have trouble expressing yourself, even breaking out of that shell just a little will help with day to day necessities like meetings with coworkers.

What are the things keeping you from being a better speaker?
– Is it opportunity? Ask your boss to research a project and present your findings to a group.
– Do you rely on Powerpoint as a crutch? Force yourself to use fewer slides — especially text-heavy ones — and talk around bold photos.
– Have an annoying tic like jiggling your pocket change or saying um? Videotape yourself or ask a trusted friend to evaluate you. Do it anyway, as you might THINK you don’t do something annoying but you do.
– Want to learn from the best? Watch a few TED talks. These speakers are usually the ‘rock stars’ of their industry, and have honed their message over years of presentations before getting to present at this conference.

Here’s a tip.
A good friend of mine and speaking instructor taught me about the “W” formation. If you’re on stage with a wireless mic and moving around, thank about hitting all the points of a W. Be at the front left of the stage, say some words, make eye contact. Then regress back to a point and engage a different part of the audience. Then move to center stage to make a point (the middle part of the W), and connect with the people there. Regress back to the back right of the stage, then work your way up to the top right of the W and engage with the right half of the audience. The key here is to make it look smooth and effortless.

Resource: Toastmasters, TED Talks

5. Photoshop / InDesign / Illustrator
If I had to do it all over again, I would be a designer. As it is now, I “know enough Photoshop to be dangerous” and try desperately to know my limitations. Still, I find myself saying “oh, that graphic should only take 15 minutes” and mocking up crude versions of what I think something should look at.

I seem to know a ton of designers, have many designer friends, and in the past have even seemed to gravitate toward designers in my dating life. I have so much respect for them, because it’s something that I wish I could do better, but cannot.

Still, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get decent at design yourself, if only to better communicate when you need to get your thoughts across to the pros. And if you ARE someone that wields a mighty (tablet) pen, more power to you. Newsletter design, web design, banner design, Powerpoint graphics, eBook design, mobile design, iPad design… in the digital world, there seems to always be a demand for your services.

The same holds true for photography. Yes, anyone can pick up a point and shoot and take a great photo these days, but knowing lighting, cropping, angles and so forth can turn your blog from a hobby into a work of art.

Resource: online videos, courses, friends

6. Video editing and production
Video is still experiencing massive growth on the web, and it’s not slowing down. We’ve gone from large video cameras with temperamental tapes in them to sub $200 HD Flip cameras to every new smart phone adding video capability. So while making the leap from photos to Photoshop is somewhat steep, going from videos to quality video production is a lot higher hill to climb.

Right now there I see a huge chasm between those that take a straight stream of video and post it on the web, vs someone taking the time to capture good audio, have great lighting, add in graphics and transitions, and edit the video so that it flows.

You want to be schooled on how to effectively record audio and edit video? Check out any of the videos by Hopkinson Report favorite Pomplamoose:

You want 1 reason why you should learn video editing? I did a post called Best Earbud Headphones for the iPhone, a Marketing and Technology Test where I tried to get the post to the frontpage of Google. By the next week, the article was on page 5. But the video I did with it? Right on page 1.

Resource: online videos, courses, friends

7. Tablets, apps, and mobile development
The final skill, and probably the most specialized and hardest to learn, is becoming a programmer. Sure, there are modern languages and software development kits that help templatize the process and make things a bit easier, but having the chops to sling code is a special skill. And my thinking is that nowhere else is this more in demand than mobile development.

If you’re an expert developer for the iPad, iPhone, or Android, I can assume you can pretty much name your price right now. Or why would you, when you can build a cool game and market it yourself like Matt Rix did.

So now you’re thinking, what if I just don’t have the skills to be a programmer? Well, look around at all the other fields surrounding mobile. Maybe you can design for the iPad. Or be THE go-to person for amazing eBook covers. Perhaps you’re a writer and can create a handy guide to be read on the iPhone. Or blog about the Android vs iOS battle.

Maybe your thing is to market or project manage an iPhone application project. Or be a thinktank for ideas for a game or utility. As a researcher, you can analyze the state of the mobile industry. And for commerce, set up an affiliate website to sell the most popular cases for the next iPad or iPhone. Look at past Hopkinson Report guest Rana Sobhany, who took one look at the iPad and realized she could turn it into a DJ platform.

Face is, there will be big demand here, so start with what you can handle and evolve.

If you’re in new media, looking to break out of your current situation, here are the 7 key skills you should pursue:
1. Blogging
2. WordPress
3. Reporting
4. Public speaking
5. Photoshop
6. Video editing
7. Tablets, Apps, Mobile development

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