5 ways to get to the top of your field

Have you just got the basics of a new skill and are now interested in ramping it up to professional level? Great then this article is for you!

All seasoned developers know that a key to thriving in our industry is to develop the skill to properly process new information. This skills has four steps ie:

    - Recieve information
    - Understand it
    - Process it
    - Apply it

On this entry we will only talk of the first step, you may want to look at this entry So you want to become a master developer? for the other steps.

Fire up the hose

In the sea of information that we live in, it is easy to loose track of what is important, however the following key sources always deliver.

Top blogs

Identify key players in your industry and follow their blogs. Most will send you newsletters, signup for that, if that is not available you can leverage Google Now or any other content aggregator.

Due to my busy schedule, I find Readability to be an especially potent tool to manage my reading schedule, may also work for you.

Follow key people

Unless you are in the music industry, the likes of Beyonce should not be in your list of key people. I am talking about influencers in your field. This maybe Taylor Otwell in the PHP community or Obie Fernandez in the Rails world.

By following them both on twitter, github or any other platform that they choose to express themselves, you will get the latest on what is happening in the domain.


I am willing to bet my last shilling that you have at one point or another found the solution to your problem on http://stackoverflow.com/, but I would not hazard the same that you have contributed to it.

By keeping an eye on new questions coming in to such forums you not only quickly gain knowledge on your field, you also establish yourself as an expert in the domain.

If you are unable to spent as much time on this task, check out CodeTriage, this guys will send you an issue a day to solve on your inbox, pretty cool right?

Local user groups

Don’t let the position of this entry fool you, this is one of the important tasks you can do. User groups present to you a unique opportunity to interact with people in your field who also operate under the same business environment as you do. This means that in addition to knowledge and skills you can also get tangible benefits like a job or contract.

Start from http://www.meetup.com/ look for your target group and join join join!


In your next review, consider requesting your employer to sponsor you to go to a conference in your domain. The costs are usually neglegible and the benefits gained both for you and your employer massive. I will let Chris Marr expound further Why attend industry conferences, seminars and events?

If however you can not make it to attend such conferences, you can probably find slides of it from sites such as Slideshare or SpeakerDeck. Video recordings are also usually available in YouTube or Vimeo.


Courses valued at thousands of dollars are available for absolutely free from organizations like Coursera, MIT, Harvard etc. It is insane not to aggressively cash in on all this freebies!

Commit yourself to at least one course every half year or so, the fruits will be worth it.

Turn down the hose

While all this new information is fun and exciting, it will eventually start eating into your professional and personal life. To get some work done you eventually need to down the hose of information down to a manageable level.

Remember your clients pay you to build them software, not to attend conferences.

How do you manage your own flow of information? Talk to us in the comment section below.


Published by


Software Project Manager