Many of us would consider attending a workshop a must-do on our priority list when looking at career-boosting tactics. It’s a great opportunity to join with top talent in our field to get hands-on training in a new skill in an inspiring and cooperative atmosphere. But how many of us have stopped to consider the value of running a workshop for our own career development?
In this article, we’ll be looking at a host of advantages that leading your own workshop will have on your future career. As we’ll see, organising and leading workshops gives you the chance to flex your team-leading and mentorship muscles, cement your knowledge and build your confidence to become the go-to expert in your field. All the while promoting your passion and ideas to key players in your industry. Sounds good, right?
As well as building on these skills, hosting your own workshops enables you to gain the crucial leadership experience you need to secure your next top role or job promotion. On a practical level, you’ll be negotiating difficult challenges, not to mention different personalities and working styles, and guiding complex discussions to ensure the group reaches its common goal. In terms of boosting our careers and cementing knowledge in our area, it’s fair to say there are few things that beat it.
What may surprise you the most is how much your professional value increases when you’ve learnt how to run workshops and executed on this knowledge with success. With all this extra experience under your belt, you’ll soon find those sought-after jobs falling into your lap.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly why running a workshop can be so good for you and your future career, and discover exactly what you need to do in order to become a great workshop host.
Cement your own knowledge through teaching
It goes without saying that knowing your subject inside out will put you miles ahead of the competition in the job marketplace, as well as demonstrate a deep personal interest in what you do for a living. As career-boosting tactics go, there are few that come above really knowing your stuff. But how can hosting your own workshop help you cement that knowledge and become an expert in your field? The secret, my friends, is teaching.
Study after study has demonstrated that the very best way to learn anything inside out is not to simply sit at home and memorise facts and figures, it’s to get out there and teach it to someone else. It has even been suggested that older siblings tend to have a higher IQ than their younger brothers or sisters because they essentially ‘tutor’ them from birth. Sometimes known as ‘The Protege Effect’, teaching others as a way to cement your own knowledge works because it increases your own motivation to learn, increases feelings of self-competence, and crucially, because it makes you more aware of how you learned that material yourself.
This is why hosting your own workshop can be such a great tool; you’re in a position where you need to explain difficult concepts to people of different abilities, levels of experience and at different stages in their own careers. The more times, and the more different ways, you iterate on this the more your own knowledge on the subject builds. After running your own workshop you’ll be well-practiced at teaching and enthusing others in your subject, and your own knowledge will be deepened as a result.
When it comes to your next job interview, or review with your current employer, you’ll be practiced at demonstrating your knowledge as well as showcasing your experience teaching it to others, a skill much-valued in the kind of leadership role you really, really want.
Learn how to prioritize the good ideas over the bad ones (and quickly!)
Demonstrating a clear head and having the ability to prioritize good ideas over bad ones is something every employer seeks in members of his or her team. Let’s face it, it’s just a great life skill in general. If you’re hoping to step up into more of a leadership role, practicing this as a workshop host could do your career wonders. You’ll be showcasing your own ability to manage the ideas and expectations of a group, as well as your own talent at seeing the bigger picture and keeping your eye on the prize. Crucially, you’ll be able to show you’re not dazzled by jargon or swept up in trends that don’t offer value to the product or team.
How will running a workshop help you learn how to prioritize the good ideas over bad ones? First of all, it will give you plenty of practice at conducting and guiding brainstorming sessions, as well as managing the expectations of a group. You’ll be learning how to bring everyone together and remind them of their common goal. Additionally, some tried and tested workshop techniques will lead you to what is objectively the best idea to go forward with. (No, we don’t mean closing your eyes and pointing.) Whether you choose to ask team members to write a pros and cons list for each idea or rank each idea out of ten for Novelty, Usefulness and Feasibility (or criteria specific to the subject), together you’ll be democratically sifting through the good from the bad and using the expertise of the group to come to a collective decision. If no-one is crying at the end, you’ve nailed it!
Learn how to design your own custom workshops
These are all disciplines that, when it comes to your next position, you’ll be able to employ with your own ideas and the ideas of others to ensure that only the very best ideas get developed further. Your new boss is going to love your time-saving techniques and diplomacy at decision-making that sees a project jump quickly forward to the next stage of development.
Put leadership skills into practice
Have you been keen to take on more of a leadership role but have often been overlooked because you lack leadership experience? Hosting your own workshop can be a great way to gain that experience and put those leadership skills into practice.
During a workshop you’ll be relied upon to guide discussions, manage any conflicts that might arise, and offer praise or constructive criticism during brainstorms or group activities. You’ll also be responsible for structuring the session, keeping everyone motivated and engaged and ensuring the end goal is achieved. If you’ve not managed a team before, running your own workshop will be a deep dive into how to juggle different personalities and working styles and getting the best out of everyone regardless of both. You’ll be wearing many different hats: diplomat, counsellor, coach, team player, which, as you can imagine, is no easy task! But when the group is making strides towards its common goal your hard work will have paid off dividends.
Essentially all of this leadership practice within the workshop is great training for learning how to manage teams, build trust and respect and find ways to get the best out of your colleagues without beating them over the head with a MacBook: essentially, all the skills you’ll need in your future career!
Become a thought-leader in the space by speaking your mind and demonstrating your value
Many of us enjoy reading influencer posts on Medium, or watching YouTube videos from our favourite experts, so why not try and become one yourself? Hosting your own workshop can be another great platform for getting your own ideas out there on a subject you are knowledgeable and passionate about, as well as demonstrating your value as a contributor in the field.
A great way to make the most out of this opportunity and reach a larger audience is to repurpose any content you’ve created for the workshop. Think about writing a blog post detailing the experience of running the workshop, using anecdotes or photographs from the day but also the extensive research you did prior to it. If you were able to video a group discussion, this could also be uploaded and shared on a blog or to your social media channels.
However you choose to do it, don’t let all your great research be limited to use on the day of the workshop only. You have the possibility to reach many more people by sharing your learnings and building a bigger discussion around your topic. You’ll find that soon enough you’ll be a sought-after contributor on your subject, which makes you a great prospect to future clients or employers.
Make lasting contacts and gather testimonials
When looking to change careers or take a step up in your current job, your network can be as valuable to making that leap as any hands-on work experience. And, although there’s no denying that online networking has its place, nothing beats face-to-face communication.
When hosting your workshop you’re going to have the opportunity to personally meet a tonne of well-connected professionals in your field. By demonstrating your passion and talents in a physical context (and not just online) you might very well be the first person they think of when an interesting job at their company opens up. In the meantime, who better to ask for a first rate testimonial than your workshop attendees? A glowing testimonial on your expertise, teaching and leadership skills not to mention your general enthusiasm for the subject are going to go a long way with future employers. Plus, it’s always nice to hear that people like what you do!
A great way to gather insights on your performance is to ask attendees to fill out a very short survey rating their experience of the workshop. This will also be a great way for you to learn how you can improve for next time. Simply send out a survey link to participants when the workshop is over and ask very, very nicely if they wouldn’t mind filling it in.
These kind of testimonials can easily be added to your own personal website, with permission, and that way future employers can see from others in the field exactly how great you are at this.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about why hosting your own workshops can be the best thing you can do to land that next promotion, or secure that great new job. As we’ve seen, there’s no better way to cement your knowledge on a subject than through teaching plus it’s a great way to demonstrate your own passion for the subject. As a workshop host you’ll also learn valuable skills like idea prioritisation and how to lead brainstorming sessions which you can use to guide and manage teams in your future leadership roles. Through the production of quality content both during and after your workshop you’ll be letting everyone know your value as a thought leader in the space, and the host of new people you’ll meet won’t just be valuable contacts for when a new job opens up, they’ll also be your cheerleaders and professional collaborators. With any luck, they’ll also be the first ones to write you a top testimonial or letter of recommendation when you need it. Above all, running your own workshop is going to give you the confidence boost and experience you need to make that next career move.
If you’d like to learn more about how to run your own workshop, at AJ&Smart we’ve trained literally thousands of people in exactly that. Take a look at the courses we offer and get in touch to find out more. We look forward to helping you boost your career!