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6 Thought Leaders to Follow to Learn the Tech Industry Inside and Out

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In our constant 24/7 world, it's becoming increasingly difficult to separate valuable information from the noise (and there's a lot of it). And that's especially true in technology, where timely and accurate information is precious currency.

So, we put together a cheat sheet of the best thought leaders to follow so you can stay ahead of the trends. The icing on the cake: You can lean on the facts gleaned from these thought leaders to spark a great conversation (and network like a boss).

1. The Cryptocurrency Queen: Neha Narula

Heard of blockchain, but don't quite understand the basics? What does cryptocurrency even mean and why should you care? You might as well find out from the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT, Neha Narula. This currency futurist has some pretty rad ideas on how digital (and programmable) money can transform our world. Here's just one: instead of signing up for streaming services and getting a cable bill, your television will analyze your watching habits and recommend well-priced content that you'll enjoy and fits into your budget.

Conversation starter: A crypto-powered vending machine = neat way to get your Diet Coke fix.

2. The Biopharma Visionary: Karin Lachmi

This former Stanford University cancer researcher is on a mission to make the daunting task of drug discovery easier by focusing on the details. Her startup, Bioz, uses artificial intelligence to enable life science researchers to quickly source and compare the right products for evaluations and experiments, setting the stage for efficient processes. Follow her Twitter to find out where the biopharma industry is headed.

Conversation starter: Find out why the parable about King Solomon is relevant in today's tech startups.

3. The Trend Psychic: Mary Meeker

There's good reason her annual predictions have been labeled the most highly anticipated slide deck in Silicon Valley. For years, Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist, has had an uncanny ability to predict just where the trend lines fall in a range of cutting-edge technologies. Known as the Queen of the Internet for her bold stock predictions during the Internet Bubble, Mary is the trend specialist to put on your radar if you're keen on keeping your ears to the ground without expending too much energy.

Conversation starter: Mary might not have much of an online presence, but set your calendars at least once a year to look through her annual predictions for tech. They're invariably spot on.

4. The Startup Guru: TechCrunch

Looking for the lowdown on every tech tidbit there is? TechCrunch should be one of your top go-tos. The world of startups can be hard to keep track of, but this smart website and their Twitter account lets you in on the latest. Equally important, the articles break down the news into jargon-free, easily understandable info so you get the most bang for your online cruising efforts.

Conversation starter: Did you know that foldable displays are the next thing in devices? Or where to go for most lifelike online avatars? If you were a TechCrunchie, you would.

5. The Industry Insider: MIT Technology Review

The quintessential publication for tech lovers, the MIT Technology Review gives you an insider peek at industry goings-on through its Twitter feed, even if you're not a subscriber. Where else can you learn that an old-fashioned AI has won a Starcraft shootout? Dive in for updated info about robotics, AI, blockchain, biotech, and other cutting-edge technologies.

Conversation starter: Want to know more about the first gene-edited babies coming out of China? Here's your source.

6. The Game Master: VentureBeat

Rely on VentureBeat for the most current news about technology, especially in the startups (and gaming) space. The website's VR Big Data and Cloud channels make for engaging reading. Gamers especially appreciate the current news from their gaming worlds.

Conversation starter: Can online surveillance from brands go too far? How far is too far?

Use this list to streamline the tech content you need to read, and you'll be on your way to becoming a tech thought leader yourself. Or, at the very least, you'll be the most well-informed person in the room.