As our recent ebook about marketing career paths proves, you don’t need an expensive MBA to become a great marketer. You don’t need to read a pile of career advancement books, or spend every weekend at seminars, or update your LinkedIn profile every day. As you invest in your marketing career, the important thing is to spend your time in the places it will count the most. And, just as you would with a stock portfolio, be sure to diversify — if you can manage multiple investment, all the better.
So if you’re looking to advance your skillset, your knowledge, and ultimately your position, here are my top four places to “invest” your time:
1. Take a Class
Every marketer I know has something they’ve been meaning to learn, but just isn’t part of her daily routine. Taking a class doesn’t have to take a huge investment of time – try one of the many high-quality courses you can take online from places like Coursera or Udemy.
If you’ve got some extra time (apologies if the very idea of extra time is hysterical to you), you might want to try an open course through your local university. Wish you were more comfortable with public speaking? Your local ToastMasters chapter is a great (and inexpensive) source of training and experience. Want to develop your eye for layout and presentation? Most community colleges offer basic design courses. Marketo also offers training courses through our University, which run the gamut of marketing-specific skills – everything from leveraging social marketing to building multi-stream engagement programs.
2. Strengthen Your “Weak Ties”
You’re connected to your network through both “strong ties” (your deepest, strongest connections to people) and “weak ties,” which tend to be more numerous and superficial, though potentially just as powerful. To advance your marketing career, you need both.
So what’s the best way to strengthen your network? Start networking, of course! Go to community events, like user groups. Engage on LinkedIn, or tap into the Marketo community. Remember that mentors aren’t just for newbies – whether you’re fresh out of college or a CMO, it’s never a bad idea to have coffee (or drinks) with a marketer you admire.
3. Subscribe to Blogs or Content Newsletters
What’s the latest and greatest in marketing innovation? What’s going on with Google Analytics? Who did Facebook acquire this time? There are actually people whose jobs are to find this out for you. There are also plenty of bloggers who are incredibly passionate about educating their audiences about how to think about marketing – or what they should be thinking of. Some of my favorites include Seth Godin’s Blog, Rohit Bhargava, and of course (yes, I’m shameless) the Marketo Blog.
Invest in being up to date on best practices, as well as in the new innovative products that may affect what you do. The marketing landscape is constantly changing, so it’s important to know what’s out there, and what those solutions can do for your company. Nothing says “star employee” like researching and implementing a project-saving procedure or product.
4. Ask for Help
If you want that promotion, ask for help getting it. Your company’s infrastructure should be designed you from point A to point B – after all, the more advanced your skills become, the more valuable you can be to your company. Rather than approaching career advancement as something you deserve, approach it as an ongoing project that you and your boss are achieving together.
Questions like, “Am I on track?” “What can I be doing differently?” and “What are your goals for me?” are all useful jumping off points for these conversations. That said, most people prefer to help those who are already helping themselves – come prepared with your own ideas and benchmarks.
Those are my top four places to invest your time. Which career advancement techniques have earned you the most positive ROI? Share your career advancement strategies in the comments below.