Your fall calendar’s probably filling up; mine certainly is. We start to get selective, don’t we, about where to put our time and energy?

One choice I’m making: get out from behind the computer and do more learning at live events.

Over the summer I’ve read some books, watched some webinars, listened to teleclasses – and yes, I’ve learned a few things.

But a lot of those much-ballyhooed free sessions are thinly disguised sales pitches. Some offer a nugget or two after you wade through a lot of promotional palaver. And many of the people who conduct them have irritating voices and annoying delivery styles. (Yes, I have judgements about that.)

So this fall I’m going to some events where I know I’ll get valuable information, delivered well.

Plus, I learn better when I can make a personal connection with the leader/teacher/expert. That happens when we’re face-to-face in a meeting room. Not so much when I’m one of hundreds logging in to a webinar, which is probably recorded anyway.

There’s just something about getting to know the person that helps me tap into their expertise in a deeper way.

And the energy of the group enhances the experience. Don’t you sometimes find, when you’re at a seminar or a workshop, that you get nearly as much benefit from the conversation at the table as from the person at the front of the room? The interaction helps us process the information. And more than that, the atmosphere makes a difference.

You can make profitable connections at an event. When I hosted Own the Room Live last year, there was some serious networking going on. People made coffee dates, deals and even hiring decisions during the lunch break.

Accountability enters into this equation, too. On an anonymous teleseminar, I can (and I admit, I often DO) hear something that sounds like a great idea. And then do absolutely nothing with it. I hang up, I get busy, I forget all about it. Or it turns out to be hard and I do something else that takes less effort. Or, well I might come up with a million excuses.

But when I connect with other people in a learning environment, I feel inspired. Even if we don’t make a formal arrangement to check in with each other later, I feel a certain responsibility to do what I said I was going to do with the content we’ve covered together. That helps me make the most of the experience.

And then there’s this. It’s just more fun to get together with other people than it is to sit in my little office and stare at the screen.

So here’s what I’ve committed to for the next couple of months.

  • A two-day retreat that, frankly, scares me a little bit. It’s based on the work of Brené Brown – you know, the queen of vulnerability and shame resilience. YIKES! I’m going because I think this inner work is necessary for business success. (Okay, and for life, too.)
  • An improv workshop because it will help me polish my front-of-the-room skills. And because I recommend improv for my clients frequently. Thinking on your feet is essential for speaking – and for sales.
  • A marketing workshop for professional services people who want to increase their client base and revenue. Because (duh…) I want to increase my client base and revenue.
  • A weekend intensive on Universal Laws with David Neagle, the income acceleration mentor.
  • And of course you already know I’m hosting a workshop for business owners who want a crisp, compelling way to describe what they do that will turn “No thanks” into “When do we start?”
  • And another workshop in late October for women who want to free their voice and be heard. (I’m teaming up with Dr. Lisa Kaplin for that one.)

You’re more than welcome to join me.

Yeah, yeah, I can already hear you saying, “But Catherine, I don’t have the money for those things.” Or maybe for you it’s not the money, it’s the time you’re unwilling to commit.

I can relate – on both counts. I’m careful about where I invest my professional development dollars. And picky about how I spend my time.

AND, I know for certain that if I don’t spend some money and some time sharpening my skills and bolstering my beliefs, my business will wither and die like a plant that goes un-watered.

Yours will, too.

It’s true: free information flows from the internet like water. I’m choosing instead to invest in high-quality help from people who actually care about my success the way I care about yours. It’s not just about information. It’s the inspiration to do something with it. Live events are the way to make that happen.

Whether you join me in Skokie or Schaumburg … or opt for some completely different experience, I hope you will join me in getting out of the office and going to an event that supports your professional development.

And of course I want to hear all about it. Comment below to tell us about your plans. And your results.