How to Convince Members They Have Time for Professional Development

You know the old cliché: if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. Busy people are great at organizing their day and crossing tasks off their lists, but they don’t always schedule time for professional development. What’s the use of running yourself ragged if you end up limiting your potential because you don’t have the skills or knowledge to go further?

It’s likely a sizable percentage of your membership and market don’t participate in your professional development programs. If you ask them why, they’d probably say something like “I don’t have time.” So, you have a double-headed challenge to overcome. First, you must persuade people to make time for professional development. But you must also have microlearning programs that fit their busy schedules. You won’t make any headway if all your programs require hours of time each week—that’s too much to ask of someone who needs to develop the lifelong learning habit.

Microlearning programs fit a busy person’s schedule

Microlearning is schedule-friendly and results-friendly. The learner digests small bites of content and has time to reflect and put it in context before going back for another bite. Microlearning is an ASAE Foresightworks Driver of Change:

“Workers will need to continually learn, but many want small, specific bursts of information tied to immediate job demands, available at a time of their choosing. New media forms will enable modules that are small, timely, and focused. Certification will need to change to allow microlearning modules to be assembled in innovative combinations for new forms of certification.”

Here are some ideas for microlearning programs.

Offer a basic video series

Assess your existing video content, including session and webinar recordings. Break the popular topics down into chunks—short lessons that are a mix of 3- to 10-minute bites. Create an email campaign to deliver these videos at a predefined frequency.

Take it to the next level: a series of lessons

Video watching is passive. Design a more interactive experience using interactive video. For example, in TopClass LMS, you can add pop-up questions to a video that the learner must answer before moving on. You can make sure they watched it if you plan to give them credit or award a badge at the end of the program. You could also add these videos to a series of lessons along with reading assignments, exercises, and quizzes.

time for professional development

Motivate and reward with digital badges

A sense of progress and accomplishment keep learners motivated. Develop learning pathways in different competency areas with content that builds on each other. Learners earn digital badges along the way and make progress toward a certificate or micro-credential.

Rely on your old friend, the webinar

50- to 60-minute webinars are too long for most people. Stand out in the marketplace by offering meaty 20-minute webinars. String a bunch of them together in a series.

Seek coffee break success stories

Look for case studies that you can present in an interview-style webinar or podcast in 20 minutes or less. Keep an eye on members talking about activities and accomplishments in your online community and vendors sharing client case studies. Work with sponsors who want to back a series of success stories. After you present the webinar or podcast, you can schedule a Q&A session with the speakers.

Host Q&A and AMA sessions

Follow up success story episodes in a Q&A or Ask-Me-Anything session. Or identify timely topics, solicit questions, get panelists, and have them answer those questions in a 20-minute session.

Follow up popular events with discussion sessions

Whenever you have a popular webinar or conference session, schedule a 20- to 30-minute discussion after the event. Use breakout rooms for small groups. Ask the original speakers, volunteers, and/or sponsors to facilitate these breakout room discussions.

Rethink existing asynchronous courses

Look at your online courses. Could you break any of the lessons into 10- to 20-minute chunks?

Get creative with pricing

As you design microlearning programs, think about the role sponsors could play in addition to subsidizing your expenses. Here are some pricing options to consider:

•    Lure in new learners with free samples, for example, the first two are free with one-time only promo codes.

•    Keep a credit card on file for “per piece” micropayments for some of your microlearning content.

•    Consider a more convenient one-time purchase of a package—especially if employers are paying—such as a series, course, certificate program, season ticket, or annual pass.

time for professional development

Marketing messages that persuade people to make time for professional development

You must make members (and others in your market) aware of a problem they don’t know they have, or a problem they’re doing their best to ignore—one that your microlearning programs will solve. See if you can tweak any of these marketing messages for your different audience segments.

No excuses!

You say you don’t have time for professional development but we have programs that only require X minutes a pop. It’s time to stop thinking or talking about it, and recognize you’re making excuses for not taking action. It’s time to do something about moving your career/business forward.

Don’t get left behind.

Okay, this one is fear-based, not our favorite marketing tactic, but it could work in a competitive marketplace: You need to keep your skills sharp and knowledge up to date if you want to stay competitive.

We can always make time for important things.

Remind people about their goals and/or values: You say you want to get ahead. You say you value growth. But do you make time to do that? If you really want a raise (new position, more responsibilities, more customers, more revenue), start making the time for professional development. All it takes is X minutes a day/week.  

It’s a personal choice.

You can grow or you can keep doing what you’re doing and stay right where you are. Which are you choosing? Remember, inaction is a choice.

You already have the time; you’re just wasting it.

It takes X minutes a day/week to participate in one of our microlearning programs. What are you spending that time on now? Instagram? YouTube?

You spend a lot of time pleasing others, now it’s time to invest in yourself.

This one’s good for parents and people in entry- and mid-level jobs: Aren’t you worth X minutes a day/week? Give yourself permission to invest in your professional development. Only you can take charge of your career.

Our microlearning programs fit your crazy schedule.

People may not know how asynchronous programs work: This is professional development like you’ve never seen. All you have to do is dedicate X minutes a day/week when it’s convenient to you and you can earn digital badges and certificates.

Where do you want your career/business to be in three years?

Promote your learning pathways that lead to digital badges and certificates, and/or your educational consulting services: If you’re not sure where to start your professional development journey and what it takes to achieve your goals, we can help.

Ideally, your marketing messages push their emotional buttons first, then provide information their logical brain will glom onto as supporting evidence. Describe your microlearning programs as the solution that will help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

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