While in Korea, I had the option to either enroll in a language class or work towards a black belt. I really wanted to learn Korean so . . . I signed up for the martial arts class.
It might have seemed as if the obvious choice was to join a university program but the actual result would have been regular conversations in English. It was the common language of my international classmates so while the lessons would be in Korean, all of the lunchtime gossip would have been in English.
So instead, I chose to keep a grammar book in my bag but hit the real world. Martial arts classes forced conversation and listening comprehension. After all, the meta-lesson was to not end up in the hospital. The motivation to communicate was immediate and profound: when the content of the conversation would prevent my skull from breaking, it garnered one hundred percent attention. There was no room for shyness when asking for clarification either.
Networking diversification is also important when choosing events. It may seem logical to attend career fairs if you want to find a job or to attend technology mixers if you are looking for technology opportunities. However, at a certain point, you have to stop preparing and take your education out for a test drive. Like grammar, knowledge is no use unless you use it.
There's no better way to test your preparation than to have it jump into a inter-disciplinary setting. When you are an expert in cloud computing, attend a mobile technology or global economy event.
Networking outside your field can generate better leads as well. In a room full of job seekers, you are going to meet other job seekers. If anyone finds a lead, she or he is likely to keep it instead of sharing.
Attending an entrepreneur's event might be a better resource for an engineer in transition. In a room full of CEOs, an engineer stands out. In addition, the conversation might be more relaxed since the competition is greatly diminished.
There are no guarantees but at the very least, you will have learned something new, seen a new perspective and met new people.
This post concludes the series Five Pointers for Attending Professional Education Events. These days, a job search or client development is not about sending out 1,000 letters. No one considers the task to be concluded in four weeks. It is a long process so it helps to plan well, be organized but most of all invest yourself in the process. You will have better success when you project a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Hopefully, these pointers are helpful and will remind you that the living and learning is a life long process.