Here are my 8 tips for making the most of your future professional development seminars include:
1. Take interesting notes. Even if you think you know it all, there’s always more to learn. As Harry S. Truman would say, “The only things worth learning are the things you learn after you know it all.”
2. Translate your notes by writing them down in a journal or on your computer. You can do this in ways that “make them your own” or at least more relevant to your own business style/needs.
3. Write down the best quotes that you hear or read. You know, those quotes that undergird your own philosophy, mission and values. I found my favorite ones were the following:
“Being in business is not about making money, it’s a way to become who you are.” ~ Paul Hawken
“Entrepreneur is not a job title. It is the state of mind of people who want to alter the future.” ~ Guy Kawasaki
“If you’re to succeed, you must understand that your rewards in life will be in direct proportion to the contribution you’ll make.” ~ Dave McNally
“By the year 2020 the largest employer in the developed world will be the self.” ~ Nicholas Negroponte
“Owning a business and working for one are as different as chalk and cheese.” ~ Paul Hawken
4. “Get into the conversation!” was something I heard Barbara Winter say again and again. But, if you’re like me, you’d prefer to slink out after the last workshop and run upstairs for an already-seen HBO movie and room service. But, if you want to experience support from like-minded entrepreneurs, troubleshoot with others, swap funny stories or share the struggle with fellow Business Indies, hanging out afterward is one of the quickest ways to build a durable network and it makes the next gathering much more fun. Swiftly swapping business cards is not enough, nor is it a form of authentic sharing.
5. Speak up when you are invited to do so by the presenters. Don’t be shy to share what you know or to ask questions about what you don’t know yet. The only way to grow is to admit you don’t know it all. Even Socrates, the wisest man of Athens-according to the Delphic Oracle-knew that wisdom comes when you can admit to not knowing. But, if you only want to share what you know, it’s okay to resist the urge to play it small. When you shine with sincerity, you are inviting others to do so as well. Just avoid dominating the discussion. I hear my mate squawking-“Talk about the cat calling the kettle black!”
6. Clarify your “elevator speech” by listening to others communicate their own. Ask about the ways your colleagues make themselves visible in a unique way in their area and nationally/internationally (if that applies). People who remain true to themselves often have ways of standing out simply by being themselves. So much of reaching out to others-marketing-is based on our capacity for authentic relationship and an authentic desire to be of service. If we don’t know ourselves very well or know how to connect with (rather than impress) others we might as well commit to working in a Kodak” photo booth, remember those?
7. Be willing to learn from the pros. Too often I can lean back in my chair in the back of the room, like those students whom I now detest, and say, “I’m 45, I have a PhD; I’ve heard it all before, marketing-schmarketing!” But, the ones who are still hanging in there after 12 to 20 years have a lot to teach me about how to avoid my first, second and third-year pitfalls. No matter what their age, young upstarts, (startups!), or those wisened by experience, they can save me a ton of mistakes and spare me from false starts or premature defeat.
8. Don’t give up before the miracle. As Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Most Indies don’t learn who they are and what they’re really offering until year three or four.