I am in the home stretch! A mere 11 more days and my children will be back under the watchful eye of their teachers seven hours a day. For a mom who works full-time from home summer break is the ultimate test in focus and time management! As we begin the annual tradition of shopping for back to school this weekend I spent some time reflecting on a Back to School list for B2B Marketing professionals to renew ourselves annually to the purpose of professional development and lifelong learning. Here’s what I think you should all add to your shopping list:
Okay not the traditional Math, Spelling, Social Studies type textbooks but there is definitely some good professional development reading we could all commit to spend more time with. If you don’t already have a read stack 2 feet high by your bed like I do I would suggest the following to chase the cobwebs from your brain.
- Successful Selling by Matt Heinz – I did a full review of Matt’s book a few months ago that can be found here. This is really a workbook style so it fits nicely in the textbook category
- Why Most Powerpoint Presentations SUCK & How You Can Make Them Better by Rick Altman – I saw Rick speak at a conference a few months ago and knew I had to have his book. I really learned more about powerpoint in his 60 minute presentation than I had learned in years of using it. That 60 minutes just touched on the high points of his book. I have since read and applied over a dozen of his techniques to my day to day life. If you give even two or three presentations a year you need this book!
- River of Doubt by Candace Millard – This is not a business book but I found it tremendously inspiring! I have never wanted to go out and conquer the world quite so much as when I finished this harrowing story of President Theodore Roosevelt’s expedition down a previously uncharted river in Brazil. If nothing else it will give you an impressive book to discuss at your next dinner party.
Time is money. Inefficient use of your time costs you and your employer money. I am personally willing to spend a significant amount of money on any tool that will make me more productive. I recently sung the praise of my iPad to the Savvy Sisters via email because of how much more productive I was able to be this summer while sitting at daily swim and dive team practices with my kids. I literally reclaimed 2 previously less productive hours a day 4 days a week because I could be fully productive at answering email, doing research for articles, etc. I know a lot of us have trouble justifying purchases based on the theoretical gains in productivity but sometimes you just have to leap. I am also not a tax expert but I have found that most supplies that I use 75% or more for work have been able to be at least partially deducted. Check with your CPA and save receipts for everything. Other cool gadgets I have seen others use recently that you should consider.
- LiveScribe Smart Pen – My friend John swears by this pen. He uses it to take notes in meetings and is seriously one of the most organized and together professionals I know.
- Voice Recognition software– Voice to text software isn’t what it used to be. Remember those horrible IVR’s that you spoke to but they never understood what you were saying? Well significant advances have been developed over the last few years. The speech to text on my Android HTC EVO phone is excellent. I use it all the time to “talk” text messages to my husband at stop lights so I don’t text while driving. Check out this product by Nuance. It receives very good reviews.
If you are like me you swore off school the day the ink dried on your thesis from grad school and wild horses couldn’t drag you back into another classroom. Lucky for me there are so many non-classroom options for professional skills development. Check out these options:
- Integrated Marketing Summit – if you happen to live near Miami, Florida or Houston, Texas then you are in luck because the IMS 2011 tour is coming to your area soon. They are wrapping up a 10 city tour around the country. If you missed IMS 2011 don’t dismay because they will be back. I attended the first IMS in Kansas City in October 2009 and have been impressed with everyone I have attended since. I great way to network with colleagues from other companies in your area and spend a day getting introduced to cutting edge topics in all aspects of marketing.
- Focus Webinars and Roundtables - Pretty much every day of the week the folks at Focus are having a webinar or roundtable full of some of the best and brightest minds in their area of expertise. A fantastic way to sharpen your saw and never leave your office!
- Marketing Profs On-line Seminars - If you are Pro member of Marketing Profs hopefully you are already taking advantage of these on-line seminars since they are included for FREE in your membership. If you aren’t a Pro member you can still join in to most of their events for $129. Some are even free. If you can’t convince your boss to let you miss a whole day away or if an event like IMS isn’t coming to your area this is a way to get quality curriculum on a particular topic you need to get up to speed on.
No Back to School shopping trip is complete without some fancy new first day of school clothes. I am not suggesting you need to revamp your wardrobe but perhaps a critical review and objective opinion of an outsider wouldn’t hurt either. I am a huge fan of the show “What Not To Wear” on TLC. Clinton Kelly and Stacy London , the show experts, have some great info on their website related to evaluating your office wardrobe including how to accessorize for the office and what defines business casual for women.
The prospect of new classmates was always part of the thrill of returning to school. Somehow we loose that joyful anticipation as we become adults and networking becomes something we fear rather than what we anticipate. If you are one of those people who knows you need to network more but can't seem to get started I highly recommend you read the books / blog of Thom Singer. Thom is truly on of the most dynamic and fun people I have ever met in a business setting and he lives his message. I have always been an outgoing person but I learned several new things from Thom that I have been able to apply to my networking style.
I hope this helps you get ready for another semester of life as a B2B marketer! If you have any additional links or suggestions please feel free to leave them as comments. I am always looking for new learning opportunities!
About the Author: Heather has spent the past 15 years advocating for the customer perspective in her approach to software development and product marketing. Her penchant for collaboration is what drew her to the Savvy B2B team. Read more of Heather's posts here or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.