By Rachel Owen, Communications Manager
Whether it’s a one hour webinar, a conference, or a certification program, professional development is an important investment of our time, resources and attention. How do you make sure you are getting the most out of your investment?
If you’re attending an event, find out if any colleagues plan to attend as well. For the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, IMI sent four staff members which allowed us to take advantage of a variety of the concurrent sessions and maximize the information we learned. Going as a team also helps to alleviate that disappointment when you simply can’t make it to a session on your “wish list.” You can coordinate schedules to see if someone is able to sit in the session for you.
Immediately following the event, get together with attendees and discuss the highlights. Talking through the information can really help to solidify concepts and flesh out ideas. Also, hearing how others experienced the event provides “fresh” eyes on what we experienced. Don’t forget to make a list of any action items that come up as part of the discussion. If you didn’t attend with colleagues, you can journal or write a blog post for a similar effect.
Here are just a few questions you can use to generate discussion:
- What excited you?
- What was helpful?
- What needs further research?
- What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
- What did or didn’t work for you as an attendee?
- How did the speaker make you feel?
- What made the session engaging?
- Would you attend next year?
- What would you do differently?
- Who did you meet?
Make sure that you share the knowledge and ideas with the entire team – not just those who attended. IMI best practice is to share meeting notes and any resources with the entire team so that everyone can benefit. Get in the habit of taking good notes! If you take notes the old-fashioned way, like I do, type up the important concepts after the meeting. During a webinar, screenshots are helpful to capture visual resources and quickly summarize key points.
Applying the new information is the most crucial part. One thing I like to do is carve out a small block of time following the meeting to make the first steps on those action items or to schedule further time to research. Perhaps you need to redesign your Twitter header, set an appointment with your insurance agent, schedule a staff meeting to discuss a new process, or research a new association management system. Break any large tasks into smaller, manageable tasks. At next year’s conference you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.
Stay tuned for a list of our top ASAE sessions and more about what we learned. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your professional development opportunities? Let us know in the comments!