5 Ways to Stay Smart & Engaged

Stay Smart & EngagedShe got me…

The rain was pouring down this morning as our daughter, Charlotte, was getting ready to walk to school, so I caved and drove her. And I’m glad I did. Because as I dropped her off to join the gaggle of noisy, drenched kids waiting outside the middle school, I started thinking.

Here were all these kids crowded round the dripping doorway to march in for another day of challenge, learning and growth. I was jealous—they were walking into this incredible opportunity to be exposed to new content, to digest it in the context of what they know now, and to arrive on the far side with a fresh perspective and new skills.

Few of us have this kind of formal growth opportunity anymore, but ongoing intellectual and creative growth is our oxygen. It’s the ONLY way to ensure our marketing and fundraising content is relevant, while fueling our personal satisfaction.

My call to action for all of us fundraisers and nonprofit communicators? Let’s schedule some learning—via conversations, reading, participating—into every day, even if for just five minutes.

Here are the five main methods I use to keep learning:

  1. Reading (and watching) top picks content (blogs, e-newsletters, social media, books, videos) in the field, from nonprofits in all sectors, and from expert marketers—in the nonprofit world and beyond—and fundraisers. This helps me keep current on trends, models, needs, tools and news. Note the top picks designation. Being selective is the
  2. Scanning the world news, and processing how it’s affecting our clients’ work and impact (for you, that will be how the news is influencing the perspectives of the folks your organizations strive to connect with.)
  3. Participating in hands-on group workshops and webinars, so I’m doing rather than just digesting. For me, the doing reinforces learning like nothing else.
  4. Pushing myself to take on the next new challenge, and making sure there’s something teed up to tackle. I’m focusing right now on developing more content marketing clients (I’m in love with writing tightly-targeted content, and just can’t get enough of it, and a new small-group coaching program.
  5. Synthesizing what I learn with what I know, and sharing that out with you and other peers via blog posts, e-news articles, speaking gigs and trainings. This is the lynchpin of my learning program, pushing me to put it all together…for folks like you! For you, the equivalent may be sharing your perspective and knowledge with your team, colleagues and/or leadership.

Reclaim school as your own, starting today. Schedule it daily to stimulate your mind, nourish your soul, keep on top of the world you’re working in (and communicating into), refine your perspective, and build your expertise and impact—all prerequisites to creating the relevant content and calls to action that best engage the folks whose help you need to move your mission forward!

How do you keep learning, even when your professional development budget is zilch? Please share your learning habits here.

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Nancy Schwartz in Professional Development | 8 comments

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