As a professional in your field, it’s important to maintain your skills and stay on top of industry trends and advances. Embracing continuing education (CE) helps to keep your knowledge fresh and relevant so your firm can continue to earn the trust of your buyers.
Many professionals, however, are confused about the role of CE courses. What are they? How can they help your firm, and where can you sign up? Let’s see if we can clear up some of those questions.
What exactly is continuing education?
CE refers to taking courses—either live or online—that are relevant to your profession. Courses are often offered through universities, professional associations, or other professional services firms. Often, the terms “continuing education” and “professional development” are used interchangeably, but both refer to the same thing: a formal process through which professionals may hone their skills.
Professional development is typically used as an umbrella term that may include attending conferences, seminars, and workshops in addition to taking continuing education courses through colleges or universities.
Most courses may be taken for credit. Depending on your industry, some professional associations require members to obtain a certain number of Continuing Education Credits, or CEUs. For instance, the Society for Marketing Professional Services offers a designated certification based on continuing education credits, requiring members to complete a minimum of CEUs in order to become a Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM).
Why is CE important to you and your professional services firm?
Aside from acquiring certifications and maintaining membership in professional societies, seeking out continuing education opportunities can also help your firm attract and develop new business. CE can be an especially important resource for developing Visible ExpertsSM within your firm, for three key reasons:
- Taking CE courses keeps Visible Experts updated on important industry topics, allowing them to retain their expert reputation among other industry leaders.
- Even if your Visible Experts are already well-versed in the particular topic of a CE course, seeking out CE opportunities helps to cement that knowledge.
- Completing CE courses adds more skills to your firm’s portfolio, which can then be used to help differentiate you from competing firms.
- Acquiring more knowledge not only helps to keep your Visible Experts more relevant, but it also helps to keep your firm more relevant in general.
At its core, CE is a way for your Visible Experts and your firm to stay on top of industry developments.
How does CE contribute to content marketing?
The knowledge and experience you gain from attending CE courses can help you create educational content to share on your firm’s website. Passing on your knowledge to clients, industry influencers, and other audiences helps you share your expertise and build credibility.
You can turn your CE experience into marketable content by:
- Using what you learned to create new blog posts topics
- Hosting a webinar to share your new knowledge
- Discussing what you’ve learned on social media
- Conducting new research based on what you learned and questions you may still have
Since CE courses are often an opportunity to engage with fresh industry topics, drawing on them for creative inspiration can be a great way to breathe new life into your content.
How do you sign up for a CE?
If you’re unsure where to look for CE opportunities, start first with the courses your affiliated association offers. From those offerings, you can get a better understanding of the types of CE courses you should be expected to take as an industry leader.
Next, check with a local university or community college. If you don’t live in a town with higher education offerings, look into online coursework. The large majority of universities and community colleges offer online classes that can be completed from anywhere. Remember, in order to ensure that outside courses count for CEU, you may need to check with your association.
It’s also not uncommon for other professional service firms to offer online learning in their particular area of expertise. Check for available webinars or offered courses that may count toward CEU.
CE courses that contribute to your credentials help to set your firm apart from the competition and demonstrate a level of commitment to the advancement of your field. Regardless of how long you have worked in your particular field or how well-respected your firm is in your industry, your learning should never stop. Continuing your education can keep your skills sharp and knowledge fresh so you can better serve your buyers and establish your firm as a leader in your industry.
Are you interested in becoming a Visible Expert? Get the book The Visible Expert℠ and contact us for a free Visible Expert feasibility review.