2010 – A Look Back

As most of us do, I like to take a look back around the New Year to see what I accomplished and maybe take a look at what I’d like to do for 2011. The following is a look at the services provided to clients, consultants, and the learning community with the help of TrainingPros. It is my hope that by going through this exercise, I will try harder next year to provide more to all groups.

If you have ideas on how I can improve in any of these areas, or ideas on things I’ve completely missed, please make a comment or email me at leighanne.lankford@training-pros.com

2010 Service to Consultants:

One of the largest groups I work with regularly are learning consultants. These can be Instructional Designers, Facilitators, Technical Trainers, Technical Writers, Graphic Artists, eLearning Developers, OD Consultants, Change Agents, or Project Managers. We work hard at TrainingPros to get to know the consultants in our market well, not only so that we can recommend the best fit for our clients, but also so that we can make sure the consultants are placed in situations that make them happy.

Here are the services TrainingPros and I provided to consultants in 2010:

Interviews: I personally interviewed close to 200 consultants this year for consideration for our talent pool.  I meet the potential consultants in person, review their consulting background, look over their portfolio, and give them feedback. An interview with myself or my colleagues is the only method for entering our talent pool. If you are a consultant and would like an interview with me, follow this link and select an interview time. I always love meeting new people.

Career Consulting: Sometimes I run across new contractors that aren’t quite positioned to be a consultant. When this happens, I try to consult with them about what they really want to do and give them advice for moving in the right direction. 

eNewsletter: I have a special eNewsletter just targeted for Learning Consultants. The newsletter covers interesting events in the greater Atlanta area that might help consultants as well as tips for finding contracts and trends in the industry. The popularity of the eNewsletter speaks to the fact that there is very little targeted out there for the learning consulting community.

Blog: I have written several blog entries that give specific advice for consultants. I’ve been thanked either on comments, in person, or via email for these articles. In fact, one consultant told me that some advice I offered was critical in helping her land a contract position.

In addition, I feature an interview with a different consultant each month to provide additional press for the consultant. Consultants can point to the interview in their LinkedIn profile, their website, or from their email signature.

 Facebook Page: Based on feedback I received from consultants I have started a Facebook Page targeted to Learning Consultants in the Atlanta area. I am not sure how this page will turn out yet, but it is fun communicating so quickly with consultants. Within the first two days I started posting contract openings on the page as an experiment. This has turned out to be very popular – the number of fans increased ten-fold once I added the openings. I hope to use this as another way for Learning Consultants to reach me and for me to reach out to them with news.

Surveys: I am trying to gather more feedback on our service from our consultants now. I have put together surveys around several of our processes like the hiring process and the end of contract process. My hope is to continually make this a great process for our consultants to experience. I have implemented several ideas submitted by consultants via these surveys.

2010 Service to Clients:

As anyone would expect, clients are a huge part of our service offering. Without our clients, we’d have no need of having consultants in our talent pool at all. I am very thankful for each of my clients and hope that I have provided the service they expect and hope for. My goal for next year is to provide even better service.

2010 Executive Breakfast Series: Training-Pros offers an Executive Breakfast each year in our major markets such as Atlanta. This year, we were pleased to have Dr. Jack Phillips come and speak to our guests on “The C-Level View of the Learning Department”. Dr. Phillips is often a keynote speaker at large conferences and it costs $3500 to attend his class on this topic. In addition to great speakers, learning leaders have the chance to network with each other during the breakfast.

Articles and Event notices:  On a regular basis, I keep an eye out for articles that might be of interest to one of my clients based on the initiatives I know they are working on. In addition, I try to contact my clients about events that are coming up that might be of value to their organization. I understand that as a leader, they probably don’t have time to read industry magazines or emails.

Consultant Placement: While placing consultants with clients is my business, I take pride in doing the best job I can at finding the perfect fit for my client. I’ve been able to find some really obscure certifications several times this year. Our tag line at TrainingPros is something I’m striving for regularly: Timely, Trusted, Targeted.

eNewsletter: Just as with the newsletter for consultants, I have a newsletter targeted specifically for clients. This newsletter features links to upcoming events, articles about happenings in Atlanta and the learning world, and usually some meeting summaries. I would like to improve this newsletter next year by offering even more relevant news to the learning leaders so comments on this are invited.

Class Giveaway: I was fortunate enough to be in a position to give away a class this year that was valued at $795. I offered this class through a free drawing of anyone raising their hand. One of my oldest clients won the drawing and reported that he really enjoyed the program.

Book Giveaways: I have been purchasing industry specific books and giving them away to clients and potential future clients based on initiatives they are facing. I’ve even had a couple of “drawings” for free books. I’m a big fan of books and love to give them as gifts. Just ask my kids.

Free Research: Several of my clients take advantage of my offer of “free help.” When an overworked leader with too little time has one more investigation project placed in their in-box, I have offered more than once to do the legwork. I will do internet searches, use my online paid resources, and make multiple phone calls to find the information they need for their decision making. I then provide this information to my client for their own decision making. It is my hope that saving my client many hours of research helps them with their overall job.

Solutions Design Consultation: Several of my clients take advantage of my free “solutions design consultation” offer that is available for any large project where you will be using our consultants. In these sessions, I spend several hours working out different potential solution designs at no charge for my client.

Vendor Screening: Several of my clients utilize my offer to help them look for and screen vendors for a service not offered by TrainingPros. Because of my network in the Atlanta community, I’m in a great position to investigate the reputation of vendors on behalf of my clients.

Candidate Reference Check: Several clients have also called me throughout the year to check the work background through unofficial references on potential permanent candidates. There are very few companies in Atlanta where someone at TrainingPros doesn’t know someone in the Learning Department. Having me make a few phone calls can help take the guess work out of making an offer of employment.

Blog Articles: While many of my blogs are targeted toward the Learning Consultants, I have done several articles targeted toward my clients. These include meeting summaries, articles about the benefits of having your team take volunteer leadership positions, and articles about upcoming initiatives and events in Atlanta. I hope to add some book and magazine article reviews as well in an effort to save you time. I welcome suggestions on what topics would be more helpful to clients.

Service Improvement Efforts: I am making efforts to improve the service I provide my clients overall through the use of “end of engagement” surveys and year-end surveys. Thank you to each client that has completed these. They’ve given me great ideas.

2010 Service to the Learning Community:

I have found the learning community very valuable at all stages of my career.

  • As a new young professional (more than a few years ago), I found great value in local learning organizations for professional development. I learned a lot by attending conferences. Learning magazines and newsletters were a great source of continued education for me. I even enrolled for and obtained my graduate degree after three years in the learning field.
  • As a corporate manager I saved time by using the conferences and local organizations to gather vendor information for me. I could then quickly compare vendor offerings and shorten my selection cycle. I even used the local graduate programs for finding interns for our company. I used the local organizations as a great place to send my employees for professional development at an extremely reduced cost.
  • And as a consultant I found the local organizations to be a great place to expand my network and meet other consultants. In addition, as a consultant I can keep up with the newest trends in learning so that I am more relevant when being compared to other consultants.

Because the learning community has provided so much to me over the years, I have spent most of the last decade giving a portion of my time to the community as repayment. Here are some of the things I’ve done this year:

Served as VP of Member Services for Greater Atlanta ASTD:  In this volunteer role, I was able to reach out to prospective members of ASTD, orient new members to all that the chapter offers, reach out to members that recently dropped out, and find volunteers for the chapter.

Currently serving as VP of Marketing for Greater Atlanta ASTD: In this volunteer role, I am helping the chapter market it’s events to members, students, and the overall Georgia Workplace Learning community. I am helping to find new members. I am finding vendors that could benefit by sponsoring chapter events and programs. I have worked with teams to create a new Provider Directory where consultants can list their services for a very low price.  I was able to attend ALC again – which I think is a benefit to me rather than giving back!

Increased awareness of Employee Learning Week: I’ve been a member of ASTD off and on for well over a decade and I never heard of Employee Learning Week until earlier this year. Once I understood what it was about, I made an effort to increase awareness of the event through my newsletter, phone calls, and this blog. Many learning leaders jumped on the idea as well and several leaders were photographed with Governor of Georgia for their efforts to recognize ELW. (However, I don’t take credit for the photo, it was a combined effort of Mark Myette and Dan Curran.)

Speaking engagements: I occasionally will offer myself as a speaker on some topic I know well. Lately I’ve been asked to speak on the Articulate eLearning Suite – but there are now quite a few experts on this topic. I had one speaking engagement this year. 

Connecting speakers with opportunities: I have had several opportunities this year to connect speakers to organizations in need of speakers.

Volunteer for eLearning Awards: For the past four years prior to 2010, I coordinated the ASTD Greater Atlanta T-BL SIG eLearning Awards. This was my “big” event each year when I was the co-chair of the SIG with Shaunda Paden. This year I volunteered to help with the event on a small scale. Beverly Taylor gets credit for the full coordination of the event that was a huge success. If any of you haven’t heard of it, it’s a great chance to win an award for great work in the state of Georgia. It happens every year in December. Start planning now for next year’s award.

That’s It! I hope to do better than match this level of service in 2011. I welcome any feedback or suggestions on what other things I can do to serve my clients, Atlanta consultants, and the learning community.

Best wishes for New Year – Leigh Anne Lankford

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