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Part 1: How to get the most out of your face2face training in 2017

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There are many ways to train ourselves – how do we assess if face2face learning is worthwhile?

Now that the SRA Competency learning and development framework provides a whole range of methods to increase your competency how do you know if face2face training is for you?

How do you decide whether to spend the time commitment and costs on a day/morning out of your office where you could be delivering legal services and wowing your clients, or even working on your legal business?

Here’s my 7 tips for assessing if a face2face training event and/or conference is for you:

1. Outline or Contents of the eventread the contents of the outline – really read it. In the CPD era – most lawyers booked the course based on the title! Can you relate the outline to your work or business gaps and how critical are these?

2. Questions to ask yourself to check if this course or conference is for you:

Why does it appeal and what are the top three things you that you want from the course/conference that would justify the cost and time and involved?

– How does it fit in with your learning and development plan for your competency as a Solicitor or improving your legal business skills? Does the outline of the topics covered by your event fulfil your training needs 80- 100% or significantly lower. If lower are you looking to take something else away from this event, such as meeting an important client at a conference? See also point 4 below.

– What support will you need to ensure you embed the learning you achieve from this event? You need to be thinking long term about how to maximise the time spent at these events. The new SRA approach is all about application of learning. So do ‘one off’ courses help you achieve this or do you really need to sign up for a programme, such as the Business Brilliance Blueprint* as opposed to a one off event? See also Point 3 below.

– If you don’t go – what is the impact for you, your work, your learning and development plan?

– Do you need to do any formal pre-work and if so will you have time? If not, make a list of questions about the topic to ensure you come away with your needs met. This is what one of my delegates from Ward Hadaway had to say: ‘Very useful course. Ann is very knowledgeable and engaging. Being able to tailor the discussion to my specific circumstances was helpful.’

3. Internal support and shared learning: Discuss your reasons and objectives with your manager so that both your expectations can be met about the outcomes for this training event. How will you demonstrate your learning and do you need coaching (internal/external) to support you applying your learning. If you are a director or partner, discussion with your colleagues might mean that more than one attend or you establish a way of ‘sharing’ learning so that all benefit.

4. Connection: A lot of delegates get real value from networking at training events. For example:

– Are you going to a specific conference or training event find out what is going on in the market place and meet important clients who are likely to be there.

– Or are you attending to see how your peer are dealing with the challenges covered by the your sector or specialism or legal practice. One of my delegates was offered a job at another law firm in a training course I was delivering!

– Or are both the trainers and your peer’s experience valuable/important to you? This is what one of my delegates from Schofield Sweeney had to say: ‘Absolutely brilliant day and opportunity to exchange thoughts with your peers. Ann Page added fantastic value and insightful input to the day – thank you.’ Tutors/Presenters: What do you know about these – have you looked at their website (including testimonials) or LinkedIn profile. For example – or my LinkedIn profile is

5. Social Media – is a great way to connect with people before the event and after. Locate the hashtag# for the event and see what is being said. You will also get a sense of who is going, particularly if you can’t access the delegate list before the event.

6. Cover for your absence: If you know you are going to be out of the office, discuss with your manager/colleagues about how your absence is going to be managed or a specific time when you can check in with the office. Also provide contact options to your clients. Your voice mail or email responder can provide these details too – although do remember to change them when you return to your office.

7. Don’t forget to take your business cards to share with the other attendees, pens and paper, layers in case the room is too cold or hot during the day, check you have the right address, know how to get there and where to park if you are driving to a strange city!

This is part of a series of three blogs Part two is on how to maximise your time when you are there.

* The Business Brilliance Blueprint is a comprehensive programme

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