Research can be a great alternative to consulting when you’re stuck and need new ideas. You can use the internet to find relevant sources that provide information about your area of interest. You can look for studies, reports, and articles that have been recently published to gain new knowledge and insights. Plus, researching can help you make sure that the ideas you have in mind are actually applicable in your specific situation.
Identify the problem
Identifying the core problem or need is the very first step of any research project. If a precise understanding of the issue you are trying to tackle isn’t acquired initially, it can become more difficult to create a clear path and select the best methodologies to use. Failing to effectively identify a problem can also cause issues such as spending too much on irrelevant research resources and not having an actionable answer on how to move forward once results are generated.
When starting out, it’s important to create a clear statement that outlines what exactly needs answering and why. This will serve as your guide for further research; helping narrow down search criteria, thought processes, and resources used. A common framework for problem identification is SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. While this will not provide hard facts or insightful discoveries needed for making informed decisions, it is incredibly useful when estimating probability of success in any field – online gaming included!
While consulting services provide ready-made external insights that may not be accessible internally, they may prove too expensive in some cases. In order to acquire helpful information needed without spending too much money upfront (especially if you’re just starting out), there are three alternative methods worth considering:
- Interviews & focus groups
- Competitor analysis & benchmarking
Not all these will apply equally in all cases, but each bring unique advantages when used correctly in properly allotted circumstances – just make sure it solves the specific problem at hand!
Gather data and insights
Gathering data and information from existing sources is a great way to gain insights that you can use in your next project. You can choose from numerous sources for this information, including:
- Academic research papers
- Industry surveys
- Competitive intelligence analyses
- Newspaper articles
- Online databases such as those provided by the Census Bureau and other government agencies.
Each of these methods has its own merits and drawbacks when it comes to accessing valuable data or insights. Academic papers generally provide reliable data based on scientific research but may require a significant amount of work to analyze and interpret the results. Industry surveys are another useful source for gaining valuable insights but can be difficult to access and interpret in some cases. Competitive intelligence provides context around the current market landscape, but usually at a price. Newspaper articles provide an interesting perspective on the topics they cover, but their accuracy often varies depending on who wrote them. Finally, online databases provide an expansive range of up-to-date information that can be easily accessed through search queries or specialized applications.
When selecting which source of data will best meet your needs, consider factors such as accuracy/reliability of the data, ease of access and interpretation required to draw useful insight from it. Each method holds its own advantages when used correctly; researching multiple sources is recommended for the best possible outcome for your project or organization.
Analyze the data and insights
Analyzing the data and insights gathered from primary or secondary sources can be a great way to gain fresh perspectives. Many organizations have access to a range of relevant data, such as information gathered through surveys, customer interviews, focus groups or market research. Taking the time to disaggregate this data and identify any key insights can provide valuable insights into customer or stakeholder needs.
Additionally, commercially available market intelligence can be an invaluable tool for understanding your industry landscape. Professional market research companies may also be able to provide more detailed analysis on key competitors or other players in the field. This can provide invaluable information about trends, needs and customers that you may not have considered on your own.
Finally, pursuing collaborations with business partners such as universities or technical institutions can help open up new opportunities for data gathering – from hosting panels with thought leaders in the space to transmitting research results from recent papers or projects related to the problem at hand. These types of initiatives can broaden horizons and help inform decisions quickly and affordably.
Networking is a great way to get help and guidance when starting a business. It’s a great way to meet people who have gone through similar experiences and can offer advice and insight into the issues you’re facing. It’s also an ideal way to find potential customers or partners. Networking can be done in person or virtually, through social media or online communities.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of networking:
Connect with people in your industry
Networking is an important part of any successful career growth plan and it is especially important for those who cannot use traditional consulting to gain work experience. Fortunately, there are several ways to make valuable connections in your industry, meet new people and create meaningful relationships that can benefit your career.
- Join professional associations, industry clubs and other networking events in your field. These organizations often host local events and offer a great opportunity to get to know other professionals while learning more about the latest news and innovations in your sector. Additionally, attending industry conferences will allow you to meet key people as well as gain unique insights that would otherwise be unavailable.
- Use online platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook groups to connect with current or prospective employers and colleagues. These sites are particularly useful for those seeking jobs in specific industries since employers post about hiring roles regularly and offer a way for job seekers to comment on posts or engage with them directly when appropriate. Furthermore, you can use these platforms to find professionals in similar roles from whom you might be able gather advice or hear about available opportunities firsthand as they arise.
- Leverage personal networks within your community or neighborhood to identify new ideas akin to what you’re looking for professionally. This does not need to involve pressuring contacts for jobs; rather it’s about having meaningful conversations with friends who may have knowledge about particular companies or organizations that can help you move forward in your career search. Building relationships by reaching out directly can often be more effective than bombarding employers with resumes through online portals alone.
Attend industry events and conferences
Attending industry events and conferences can be a great way to build your network. Through these meetings and conferences, you can meet people with similar interests and gain access to experts in various fields. This helps you build relationships with professionals who have an established track record of success and may be willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
At events, don’t just focus on the speakers or panelists – try spending some time engaging in conversations with those in the audience. You never know when you’ll find someone who’s been working in your field for years who has valuable advice for you.
Sometimes attending events isn’t enough – if your professional network is local or regional then consider joining or creating an association for members of your industry. Associations are especially useful for those in niche industries such as medical billing, software development or accounting as there may not be sufficient attendees at local events that represent these particular fields. Joining an association can also give you access to exclusive resources within the industry that are available only to members, such as:
- Online forums
- Networking opportunities
- Educational resources
- Job boards
Join relevant online communities
Joining relevant online communities can be a great way to boost your career without the hassle of consulting. Many of these groups offer engaging discussion forums, valuable resources, and chances to connect with other professionals in the industry. They can also serve as a source of knowledge, as members share their experiences and best practices.
Some of the most popular online communities today include:
- LinkedIn Groups
- Twitter Chats
- Medium Publications
- Slack Channels
Each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages but all can serve as a great way to tap into industry conversations and make connections that could lead to job opportunities or partnerships down the road.
Once you’ve joined a platform, participate regularly by answering questions, contributing content or discussing current issues in the industry to demonstrate your knowledge and thought leadership. Joining these networks is free so take advantage and build relationships with likeminded professionals around the world!
If you can’t or don’t want to use a consulting service to improve your skills, self-study is another way to gain knowledge and understand a variety of topics. Self-study can involve reading books and articles, completing online courses, or watching videos. It’s important to remember that self-study can be difficult and time consuming, but it can be a great way to deepen your understanding of various topics. Let’s explore further.
Read industry-specific books and articles
If you’re unable to hire a consultant with the specific industry knowledge you need, another great way to become more well-informed is to read books and articles related to your industry. This reading material can range from general industry overviews and reports to more specific topics such as customer segmentation and latest trends.
For example, if you’re looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of your customer service organization, try reading blogs or articles from advocates of customer service process improvement.
The amount of research required here will depend on how deep you want to go – if you feel it’s enough just to understand the basics of your industry, then a simple Google search will yield plenty of useful information. However, if you want a deeper dive into a certain aspect of your industry (for example pricing techniques), then focused online research could be more appropriate – reading up on relevant books or case studies related specifically to this topic can provide invaluable insight.
No matter what type of research methods you choose, it’s important that all the study material comes from reliable sources. Make sure that any articles or books are well supported by evidence and references – don’t rely solely on information that may be out-dated or unreliable. And remember – reading alone won’t give you an in-depth understanding of an industry unless combined with practical experience!
Listen to podcasts and watch videos
For those who are unable to consult with professionals, podcasts and videos can be a great resource for self-study. Podcasts provide an audio-only format with engaging and often entertaining conversations on specific topics. Some popular examples include Productivity Power Up!, which covers a variety of topics related to increasing productivity, and The Self Improvement Show, which features conversations on various strategies for personal growth.
Meanwhile, videos provide visual demonstrations and step-by-step instructions on almost any topic imaginable. YouTube is one of the best sources for learning how to do something new; it’s filled with instructional videos as well as reviews from real people who have already tried it out themselves. Information is also readily available from other video streaming services such as Vimeo or Netflix.
In addition to these resources, there is an endless supply of free online courses available in almost any subject area. This offers yet another way to gain knowledge without consulting professionals. Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy are just a few of the sites available with courses designed for self-study.
Take online courses and tutorials
For those wishing to expand their knowledge but unable or unwilling to consult a certified professional, there are many online tutorials and courses available. You can choose whether you’d like to take a course directly from an educational institution, or find a self-paced option from the countless other providers such as Coursera and Udemy. Additionally, YouTube is filled with thousands of tutorial videos that can also help you brush up on your skills without hiring someone else.
Online courses and tutorials offer users another advantage: the ability to learn at their own pace in their own time. You can choose when, where and how fast you want to study in order to fit learning into your life more easily than traditional face-to-face teaching methods would allow.
When enrolling on an online course, it is worth taking the time to research and evaluate many vendors before making a final decision. Read reviews of past students and consider the quality of resources available:
- Do they provide example files?
- Are assessments provided after each lesson?
- Are staff helpful?
Taking the time to make sure this type of self-study fits in with your needs will go a long way towards making sure it’s successful for you.