Higher Ed DigiTAL(ES) is a new series on career advice for digital marketers and communicators working in higher education. Expect tips, tricks, tools and tales collected through a decade helping your higher ed colleagues learn and grow in their digital career.
Sharing to advance your higher ed career
We love to share in higher education. It’s part of our culture.
Our industry is probably the only one where competitors (institutions competing for the best students, faculty or resources) exchange homework, tutor each other and embrace artistic borrowing as a way of getting things done – fast and on a dime.
When you share your professional wins, expertise or even challenges, your higher ed colleagues are always eager to listen. You can’t learn without listening, comparing and contrasting and we are all about learning in higher education!
We also need to share in higher education. It’s part of our DNA, because it’s a key component of career advancement in our industry.
Knowledge sharing and the resulting 3rd-party validation it creates are at the core of how faculty members are evaluated. Published articles and conference presentations are what gets professors tenure in most institutions.
Publish, present or remain unnoticed as a higher ed digital professional
While nobody expects a social media coordinator, a higher ed marketing director or an analytics professional to act as professors on the tenure track, the perception (or is it an ingrained habit?) that published work and professional excellence are strongly correlated is common in higher education.
Digital professionals like you don’t live in the publish-or-perish world of faculty. But, when you work in higher ed marketing or communication, you automatically gain membership in the “publish/present or remain unnoticed” club.
This is especially true in the age of professional branding and linkedin recruiting. Everybody wants attention, so it’s tougher and tougher to stand out. We have all become actors in the “attention economy” – and it is a very competitive market.
In your “noisy” professional environment, the most effective way to amplify your wins and get the attention your expertise deserves is to get help from influencers.
Target influencers to help your higher ed career break through the noise
If you work in higher ed marketing and communications, these influencers are usually students, alums, faculty with a large social media following or big influence.
But, when it comes to your professional career, higher ed marketing conference program chairs and trade publication editors are the influencers you want on your side.
At Higher Ed Experts (the professional online school for digital marketers and communicators working in higher education I run) I wear both chair and editor hats.
- We publish social media success stories written by practitioners and higher ed marketing memos authored by the alums of our professional certificate programs.
- We also host several annual conferences focusing on different topics (Higher Ed WEBSITES, Higher Ed Social Media, Higher Ed Analytics and Higher Ed Content).
Our next conference, the Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference (June 13, 2018) is the only event focusing 100% on higher ed WEBSITES that has an open call for proposals.
These events are unique because they are very specialized but still remains open to new, young and rising voices. The Higher Ed Experts conferences are online, so you don’t need a travel budget or 2 to 3 days away from work to present. Budget and time friendly? Checked!
At Higher Ed Experts’ conferences, the only barrier of entry is the quality of your ideas, the creativity of your proposal and the fit between your proposed session and what your peers want to learn more about.
As the program chair of these conferences, I’m always looking for:
- interesting case studies that can be replicated at other institutions
- lessons learned that can help your colleagues implement and optimize their digital strategy at a more strategic level but also on a day to day basis
- advanced how-tos that make you save time.
The Higher Ed Experts Conferences are always a lot of fun for speakers, but also attendees. Usually, 30 to 40% of registered institutions on a given year have attended a previous edition. So, this is not a conference where you want to recycle an old talk (things move so fast, anyway) or submit a clone of a session featured at the conference in past editions.
Why present at Higher Ed Experts Conferences? Keynote-size audiences!
What’s the main difference between our conferences and the others (besides the fact that ours are online)?
The length and the visibility your session will get.
The conference spans over a bit more than 3 hours and features 12 sessions of 10 minutes each. As a consequence you have to take the time to boil down the most important points of your topic. The good news is that practicing a 10-min session is far faster than a 45-min talk 🙂
But, all this hard focused prep work on your 10-minute session will get you a keynote-size audience. Higher Ed Experts Conferences only offer a single track and usually reach from 200 to 500 of your higher ed colleagues involved in their given topic.
Conference proposal: from brainstorming to submitting in 60 minutes
Ready to take a step to advance your higher ed career?
If you’re a seasoned pro, you probably don’t need my help to get your conference proposal ready.
But, if you struggle with many things on your to-do list now, here’s how you can find a good topic and get your proposal ready in 1 hour of focused work (no interruption).
- Take 15-minutes (set up a timer, ask Siri) to list the projects you’ve worked on, the best practices you’ve implemented, the tools you’ve incorporated in your workflow or/and the lessons you’ve learned over the past 6 to 8 months.
- When you’re done, take a 2-minute break. Only 2 minutes though 🙂
- Now, read the list you’ve just made and look for 2 points that you would implement/use again if you started a new job at another school. This little exercise will help you find quickly the most interesting topics for your colleagues. Take 10 minutes to come up with your short list.
- For each of the topics on your short list, spend no more than 5 minutes to write a short paragraph addressing why this is important, timely or useful and what your colleagues will learn by attending your session.
- When you’re done, take a 3-minute break.
- Read your 2 paragraphs and add a descriptive title for each. Don’t worry too much about the wording at this stage. I always do a rewrite of session titles and descriptions for the final program. I want to make sure it doesn’t read as it was written by 12 different people :-). So, don’t spend more than 10 minutes on this.
- Take the remaining 10 minutes to submit THE proposal that aligns the most with your professional brand. What do you want to be recognized for in our industry? If you can’t choose between 2 topics, submit both. You will also be asked to provide a short bio as well as a photo (think LinkedIn profile photos).
Congratulations, 60 minutes of focused work and you’re done!.
But, what if your proposal doesn’t get selected?
The work you put into writing your proposal won’t be for nothing.
Remember, I also mentioned publishing as a great way to advance your career. I can only choose 12 sessions for the conference, but options are limitless when it comes to opportunities to guest post for our social media success stories and higher ed marketing memos series or to have your work feature in one of my upcoming articles or columns.
Moreover, you will now have a good proposal idea you can submit to other conferences taking place in 2018. Win-win! 🙂