You know what clients and prospects never ask me? “Wanna sing at our next sales meeting?” There’s that – for good reason – and this:
“How do you keep building your skills, Margie?” They ask for writing samples and references. But no one has ever asked what I do for ongoing development.
I think it’s a question to ask service providers. Whether you’re hiring a blogger, designer, printer, website developer – what have you – if you’re thinking of entering into a long-term business relationship with an individual or a company, don’t you want to know how they keep up?
Months ago, I started wondering how doctors stay current. Out of the blue it hit me: once a doctor’s out of medical school, then what? Surely they’re not staying sharp just from caring for patients.
So I asked my friend Marlene, who’s been married to a physician for over three decades. She gave me the scoop. Physicians take continuing education courses, attend conferences that focus on their specialty, and are supposed to read professional journals. (She also shared that the most up-to-date physicians are in academic medicine, affiliated with a major medical school or research organization.)
Funny, I feel better already having learned this.
You’re probably thinking, “Practice make perfect.” Maybe. I know that experience has helped my writing. But I know I can always get better. There are so many bloggers, marketers, and experts I admire. I try and learn from the pros.
This season I’m favoring three. The first is Michael Katz of Bluepenguindevelopment. I’m liking “Michael Katz’s 45-Part, Solo Professional Video Marketing Course.” It’s truly an excellent investment. (Get his weekly enewsletter. You’ll thank me for it.)
And I’m registered for Ann Handley’s 6-month MarketProfs University – Content Marketing Crash Course. I’m going to love it.
My third skill-building initiative has to do with Hubspot. I cannot begin to tell you how much I’m learning every day from those smart Hubspot kids. If you care at all about understanding inbound marketing, read their articles.
If your professional development matters to you, it will impress your clients and prospects. If I were a printer, for instance, I’d talk about trade group memberships, conferences attended, books and other publications read regularly, classes taken, industry sites frequented, and whatever else you might do to stay sharp and in-the-know.
For years I’ve advised businesspeople about how to work with the print industry. One question I’ve always included when discussing how to interview printers is this: How do you stay current in your field? I know how much this matters in printing, where technology changes constantly.
The professional development efforts you or your employees undertake is news worth sharing. It says, “We’re not standing still. We work hard at improving what we do.”
You’ll make a great impression. Just maybe it’ll give you the edge you need.
© 2014 Margie Dana.