I love to learn. And I think it’s safe to say that most people who work in education love to learn. I’m constantly looking for conferences, workshops, seminars and webinars to attend and extend my knowledge. But it’s not necessarily the education conferences that I get the most benefit from.
Although I work in the education industry and that’s my niche, I’m a communications and marketing professional who loves social media and online communications. I find that when it comes to professional development, it’s the online/social media conferences and workshops that provide the most value to me in my work.
A week ago, I attended the Blog Indiana conference, and it was the most valuable professional learning experience I’ve ever had. Finally, I was gaining some advanced knowledge about the blogosphere, social media engagement and search engine optimization! I learned all kinds of new tools; we had discussions about online reputation; I heard case study after case study about how to successfully implement guest blogging, integrate social media with your website and improve Google rankings.
I don’t mean to dish on education conferences or edu-specific learning opportunities; if you can find events and blogs that cater specifically to your niche (edSocialMedia for example), absolutely take every bit of value that you can get from it. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t limit your professional development to the edu industry. If you work in marketing, look for PR workshops. If you work in technology, look for IT seminars. If you teach social studies, join a group of history buffs.
Another thing I do when I’m looking for workshops is I look in my local community. I’m pretty lucky to live in Indianapolis because we have a thriving community of social media marketing aficionados.Â It’s a huge benefit to meet people right there in your community with a related interest but different backgrounds. I had theÂ chance of a lifetime earlier this month because I network with PR professionals in the local PRSA chapter. If you start to interact with the people in your community, you can all share ideas and adapt them to work with your institution.
Do you get out of the edu arena and venture into other professional development opportunities?