Why getting out and about is a great idea for Digital Professionals #3

We’ve already looked at the potential value of talking to others at events, big and small, to your organisation, but there is no denying that getting out and about it very beneficial to each individual, both professionally and personally.

It’s great for Brand You

Getting out and about is a great opportunity to big yourself up professionally and become known in your field as an expert – a ‘go to’ person which can benefit you later on, e.g. should you go freelance! Ahem. All of this talking is really a way of you telling people what you know and what you have done, and this sinks in, almost without people realising it. I’ve made so many connections through conferences and other professional meet-ups which have led to later collaborations, sharing, and consultancy work. As the famous French beauty brand says, ‘you’re worth it’ so get out there!

An even better way of bigging-up Brand You is to be a speaker or workshop leader at an event. This would probably scare the living daylights out of most people, and even having done it for many years I still get ‘stage fright’ but it’s just your body’s way of getting you ready and fired up and it soon passes.

I ran my first session back in 2004 and, to take the pressure off a bit, I ran it with someone else. Someone who I had met back in Bath at that first conference in 2000 and stayed in touch with through common interests. See – all that talking does work! So why not give it a go. There are loads of people who would be willing to give you some top tips – maybe that can be the next blog post…!

Keep it going after the event

There is nothing like the post-event buzz of a conference or professional meet-up, but the trick is to harness that buzz once real-life kicks back in. I recently ran a masterclass at IWMW and encouraged everyone to make their own Manifesto at the end of the session. What were they going to do when they got back to the office? What was going to be different, new, changed…? Having that clear plan straight away keeps all that knowledge gained clear and captured and ready to be used.

Sharing your learnings with others is a great idea to keep that buzz alive. By talking to others (there’s that word again) about what you have learned you will stay energised and excited about your new knowledge and the potential that it has to be of value to your organisation. Again, use the slides that others have put up on Lanyrd and other resources that have been shared across the event. But pick out the pertinent bits to your organisation – again showing the value of that precious time out of the office.

And stay in touch with people. Foster those relationships that started over a coffee or a pint, or because you happened to be sat next to someone in a lecture theatre. Take their email address, follow them on twitter, find them on LinkedIn, and make that effort to say ‘hello’ when you get back, and let them know how nice it was to meet them.

There are also new channels springing up such as the Paul Boag Slack Community and the new HE-Digital Slack Community (for the UK at the moment). These are great for keeping in touch with peers and professionals that you have met at an event, and for keeping that talking going.

Screenshot of Paul Boag's Slack Group with a comments thread

Top tips for getting out and about

So, to end, here’s my top five tips for escaping the office and getting the most out of getting out and about:

  1. JFDI – just do it! Keep your eye out for subject-specific conferences across the year and if nothing floats your boat set something up. It doesn’t have to a big deal – some nice refreshments and a room with a projector and a screen, some flip chart paper, pens and post-it notes, and an invite for like-minded people to come along and talk about a relevant subject.
  2. It’s good to talk. When faced with a room full of people that you don’t know bear in mind that most people will be in the same situation as you! Say hello whilst grabbing a biscuit and tell them a bit about you, where you are from and what you are most looking forward to at the event. You’ve already got something in common (you’re at the same event!) and without realising it the conversation will be flowing in no time at all.
  3. Build it into your budget. If you go to certain events every year make sure that it is budgeted for so there is no ‘can I go to this conference’ conversation three days before the registration deadline.
  4. Be a speaker or workshop leader at an event. It might scare the bejesus out of you but you will gain the utmost respect from everyone else who is sat in the audience going ‘I’m glad that’s not me up there!’. It will do you no end of good, I promise.
  5. Keep the relationships going. Stay in touch by whatever means is relevant. Those professional, and personal, relationships have more value than anyone can ever imagine.

So, go on. Get out and about – there’s a big community of web and digital professionals out there just waiting to talk.

Author: Claire Gibbons, Digital, Marketing, Higher Education and Content Consultant.