When I launched my first Customer Education organization from scratch, I was terrified. I reached out to a colleague to mentor me through the process, and the first thing she said to me was, “Join CEdMA.”
Being a training department of one, I didn’t have colleagues readily available to throw ideas around with, to share experiences of successes and failures. But as soon as I joined CEdMA, I had a network of colleagues to learn from. My solitary training department just got a lot bigger, and my CEdMA network gave me the tools and the confidence to move forward, and bring so much more to the table than my limited experience and skills.
When I need to learn something quickly, I first ask myself, “Who can I talk to?” I am wondering if someone has done this before, and I don’t have to figure it all out myself.
Networking provides many benefits, including gaining access to advice and expertise, improved opportunities, increased confidence, and satisfaction from helping others.
CEdMA provides me networking benefits, enabling me to learn from colleagues and experts who have done it before. Members are generous with their time and expertise, which means that I quickly learn best practices.
There are several ways to network within CEdMA. These include attending our two conferences, using the website, and Ask the Members, as well as reaching out to individuals.
I leveraged the CEdMA network to launch my first Authorized Learning Partner (ALP) program. First, I posted a question on Ask the Members. Once I got a few responses, I followed up with emails and from there had phone conversations. Fellow members taught me that it’s best to have fewer ALPs and develop great relationships with them, rather than several. I learned how to structure the program, what to include in the agreements, and what to be on the look out for. As a result, I successfully launched two ALP programs, one at SugarCRM, and one at Jaspersoft. At Jaspersoft, the learning partners were an extension of our team and I was able to scale the delivery without adding instructors to my team.
Have you been to a CEdMA Conference? Conferences are key for building relationships, learning from experts and colleagues, and talking through ideas. Every time I attend a CEdMA conference, I feel the excitement of being with my 'peeps.' Rather than the usual overwhelming (for me) conferences with thousands of participants, CEdMA conferences are are intimate and interactive. This really works for me.
Members cite that networking is the number one benefit from attending our conferences. We make sure to allow plenty of "white space" at the CEdMA conferences to allow for lots of interaction. Informally talking to my peers about my challenges and successes can often lead to further networking, so it's important to remember to step away from my computer and take advantage of the easy access to my colleagues during the breaks between sessions, at lunch, and at the free networking dinner.
Often times, I might think that a certain presentation, discussion, or vendor doesn’t pertain to me and my world. Yet, the seeds are planted, and I find myself leveraging what I heard and who I met down the road. And, back in the office, when talking to management, my CEdMA network enables me to share what the industry is doing, and I speak from a larger foundation than sharing my personal ideas and feelings.
In addition, my network has also been a valuable resource when changing jobs. In fact, I have had jobs created for me because I let my network know I was available!
Remember the adult learning styles of Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic (VAK)? I think networking works so well for me because I am a kinesthetic learner. By talking, listening, and asking questions, I get to be involved in the learning process. Networking includes the visual and auditory styles as well when I meet my network in person.
Ten years later, I have grown from an insecure training manager, to a leader in the Customer Education arena. Colleagues seek my guidance as they build out Customer Education organizations from scratch, to talk about vendors and approaches.
The Customer Education world is changing and I am excited to keep learning and growing with my CEdMA network.