Professional Development Groups: a Thing of the Past?

I was recently part of a team tasked with marketing a huge professional development / networking event. The event wasn’t attended well and was probably our worst rated event, based on survey responses.

We (thought) we did everything right. Great speakers. A great venue. We tied in a networking session followed by the actual presentation. We had to charge a moderate fee ($50, association members received a discount) – well below what other competing groups charge for similar events. We had all the pieces but it didn’t work.

I then started to think about professionals, generation concerns, and organizations as a whole.

What do people want to hear about when it comes to marketing, public relations, design or corporate communication?

I’ve always gotten a lot out of my professional development groups, simply because they help me network, provide resources and better my craft. Yet, it makes me wonder if I’m unique.

In this age of instant gratification and instant Internet, have professional development organizations outlived their usefulness? And, do people feel they bring value?

I’m considering a twitter discussion on the topic. I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to leave comments as well!


A new “new”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything.  With some recent travel, the new job and the economic situation, it’s been tough to keep up.

Speaking of the new job, I was laid off last week.  Things didn’t work out due to contractual obligations and cost-cutting, which was completely out of my control.  Being unemployed in this market is no small matter, yet my outlook remains positive.  There are jobs available as people shift from one job to the next and when looking online, new positions pop up daily.  It should be an interesting time.

So, if anyone in Chicago, Austin or Seattle happens to read this, feel free to send me leads! I’m looking to strengthen my network and get names of good companies in those geographic areas.

On a more positive note, IABC/University of Pittsburgh asked me to present on the creation of online portfolios.  I’m really excited about the opportunity and hopefully the students will get something out of it.  Online portfolio building is an area relatively untouched by the school.  In my opinion, the career services office should offer some type of workshop.  When I went there, no one even informed me I had designated domain space!  (Not to mention, their antiquainted plaform was extremely difficult to maneuver and didn’t interface with Adobe of Microsoft Products.)  Maybe they’ll get that worked out in the near future.

Networking, et all.

I went on an informational interview with Ken Moir, from Brunner Advertising yesterday afternoon.  He graciously provided a myriad of helpful information including, a critique of my resume, names of potential leads and informative blogs to read.  The one thing that truly stood out was this: 

“You know how people say it’s not what you know, but who you know.  I don’t believe that to be true.  It’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you.”

This was such an interesting paradigm.  So simple, yet so true.  I hadn’t quite thought about it in that way before.  He provided suggestions that I network more, in person and online.  I should research particular blogs to discover the “hot” items in the field.  He said to actually contribute to blogs and forums (like LinkedIn or PR Open Mic), rather than just reading them. 

Some of the blogs I find interesting are:

I have to admit, the research part is probably the most time consuming.  Because I’m actively seeking employment in the public relations/communications field, I feel I don’t have first-hand insight into the day-to-day activities.  But, by researching these sites, I can definitely gain an advantage. 

He also told me that I have a “compelling story, that a lot of employers would love to hear,” but my resume didn’t quite convey it properly.  So, there will be some re-working there as well.  

I would definitely suggest that anyone seeking PR or Advertising work should take this advice.  Find some reputable blogs and follow them.  Make your resume tell your story.  Network, network, network!