8 inexpensive professional development ideas for martech pros
Looking to stay ahead in your career? Consider these cost-effective learning opportunities for martech professionals.
Marketing and technology are two fields that constantly change, and the intersection of the two fields – martech – certainly reflects that. That’s why as martech professionals, we need to develop our skills and knowledge constantly.
It is also necessary to build various capabilities beyond your domain expertise. Take advantage of opportunities to develop interpersonal skills. And don’t forget to learn about the skills of those you work with. For example, DevOps and sales topics can help you better understand your stakeholders.
Professional development doesn’t have to be expensive and time-consuming. Here are some reasonable and cost-effective opportunities that require varying levels of commitment.
1. Company-provided training
Companies have a strong motivation to develop their employees. That’s why they hire and run talent development teams for that purpose. Such teams tend to offer training applicable across disciplines for skills like coaching, teamwork, emotional intelligence, ethical behavior and prioritization, in addition to helping onboard new hires and promoting the established organizational culture.
Training is typically promoted in intranets, internal newsletters and town hall meetings, usually occuring during regular business hours. Since senior leadership backs it, it is easy for people to rework their schedules and obligations to accommodate training sessions. Most importantly, they typically don’t cost participants personal money and can help them network within the organization.
2. Industry and discipline outlets
Regardless of their profession, people should stay abreast of the industry in which they work. Understanding your company’s products is crucial no matter how technical or in the weeds a martech practitioner is.
Plenty of industry-specific outlets provide up-to-date news about trends and forces affecting industries. These are worth following. They typically have websites, newsletters, podcasts and webinars. Examples include Inside Higher Ed for higher education, Skift for travel and hospitality, Supermarket News for grocers and many others. In some cases, trade associations maintain such outlets.
Following such outlets is helpful for professional development. They can help you understand the needs and motivations of customers and users to inform strategies and tactical decisions. They also provide competitive intelligence and emerging trends and tech to consider. As for discipline-related outlets, MarTech itself is an excellent example for our field.
Dig deeper: What are the top skills you need for digital marketing?
3. Vendor offerings
Many tech vendors offer product training and certifications – especially big players like Salesforce and Adobe. Common offerings include webinars, white papers, user communities and user conferences. Of course, this is to their advantage in developing a strong and devoted user base. In many cases, such offerings are free or low cost, which makes it easy to justify effort and time.
It is important to note that many of these offerings are product-specific, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have broader value. Consider how product-specific information can apply to a broader context — including competing products. Keep in mind, however, the advantages and disadvantages of product specialization.
4. Professional groups and communities
Like other professions, many martech-related groups and communities aim to provide a venue for members to assist and support each other. Meetup is one of many places where you can find such groups.
Such groups come in different types. Some form around specific products, which vendors sometimes explicitly support, while others form around specialties. MO Pros and Marketing Ops Professionals are two examples of MOps communities.
Groups sometimes are devoted to specific specialists working in the same industry. There are also geographic groups like Silicon Slopes in Utah for people working in tech disciplines or tech in general.
These groups may have LinkedIn groups, Slack workspaces or listservs. They also require participation and volunteer leaders, so help out and simultaneously strengthen your network.
5. Online courses
On-demand training providers, like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight, offer access to most content for free. In some cases, libraries offer access to their patrons at no additional charge.
While on-demand courses lack real-time interaction between instructors and fellow participants, they are very convenient. Many also have hands-on projects and offer legitimacy to course completion through quizzes and exams.
Your local library also has many great resources. They have books and other publications, but library card members can also access premium databases like LexisNexis and other outlets with paywalls.
If you can’t find a specific book or publication, ask a librarian to order it. You’ll be amazed at their willingness to order something at a patron’s request. Put your tax money to work. Besides, not everyone has room for massive bookshelves.
7. Mentor relationships
Don’t forget mentor relationships. While these typically don’t require much financially, they certainly require mutual commitment of time and planning between mentor and mentee.
Both parties in a mentor relationship must contribute to making it worthwhile for both people. NPR’s “Life Kit” podcast recently dropped an episode about effective mentorships that provides many helpful tips on how both parties need to prepare and behave to produce a positive outcome.
You. Yes, you are another great professional development resource for others. There are many ways requiring a wide range of commitment that you can help others grow professionally.
Present at an event or conference. Mentor another professional. Contribute to an outlet. Attend a virtual or local meet-up and then participate. Hold expert open office hours.
Accept that invitation to speak in a class setting. Host a martech intern at your organization. Start a podcast, blog or YouTube channel.
Contributing to MarTech is one of the most fulfilling parts of my professional life. While I’m no genius, I appreciate the ability to give something back by sharing my perspective and helping others avoid mistakes and hurdles I’ve encountered.
Dig deeper: People skills vs. martech skills: You don’t have to choose
Ample opportunities but sole accountability
Many inexpensive professional development opportunities are available today. However, you are the master of your destiny and are solely accountable for taking advantage of them.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.