If you’re like us, you’re always looking for new professional development opportunities to take your career to the next step. These can range from conferences, to in-person trainings, to online events. However, most agencies don’t have the funds to send all of their employees to the professional development conference of their choice. So, what’s a govie to do? Online trainings, or webinars, are one answer. These virtual learning experiences are often quick, free and easy to fit into your day.
However, since you’re taking time out of your day to watch and participate in an online training, you’ll want to make sure you are equipped with the tools to get the most out of them. Here are five tips and tricks to make the most of the next online training you attend:
- Choose wisely.
A quick Google search can give you access to thousands of online trainings on almost any topic you could imagine. It can be overwhelming to narrow down the good ones and decide which one will be most valuable to spend your time on. Check out reputable sites that cover material in your field and see what online trainings they are hosting in the near future. For example, here at GovLoop, we host a lot of tech and career oriented online trainings. However, if you’re looking for more sector specific trainings on things like international relations or medicine, you’ll want to check out sites like the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Modern Medicine Network.
- Invite your colleagues.
Personally, I’m a group learner. I retain so much more information when I can bounce ideas off my colleagues and peers, rather than consuming and analyzing material by myself. If you’re like me, you could benefit from extending an invitation to an online training you are attending to colleagues that may be interested. Whether you all watch it at your desk individually and discuss it at lunch the next day or you book a conference room and watch it live together, discussing what you learned can be helpful in retaining the information and effecting any change that was inspired from the webinar. For example, if you were watching a training on detailing in the federal government and decide this is something you want to bring to your boss, it can be much easier to craft a proposal with colleagues that watched the training with you.
- Follow along.
Watching an online training can be a waste of time if you sit there passively and don’t engage with and actively consume the material. Taking notes on the points you find most salient can be a good way to follow along and can provide you with some material to reflect on after the online training is over. Additionally, many hosts will either email out the slide deck for the training before the webinar, or make it available during through a resources tab on the dashboard. Download or print the slides and take notes on them so you have all the information from the session.
Some webinars are structured for audience participation, and many will have a question box, polls, surveys, and a question answer session. If asked to share your thoughts through any of these mechanisms, be interactive with the presenters and the content. However, it’s important to be respectful of the hosts and other attendees—keep your questions straightforward and be cognizant that other people probably have questions too and the hosts can’t get to everything. If given the opportunity, add value to the discussion through your participation through your own unique perspective on the topic.
- Follow up.
Most online training hosts will send out some sort of follow up email thanking you for coming and pointing you in the direction of the materials covered in the webinar, as well as a link to the on-demand version of the training. If you don’t receive a follow up email, or it doesn’t have the resources in it that you need, don’t hesitate to follow up with the hosts and ask for the materials. Additionally, if there was a cool speaker or host that you would like to discuss the topic of the online training with a little more, it can’t hurt to try and reach out to them to get the information you need.
Want more career development resources? The NextGen Leadership Development Program could be for you. Learn more about what you can get out of the program here.