This blog posts, as many do, started with an interaction on Facebook. Below (orange) is a woman who needs help and in blue is one of my friends responding to her:
So I am teaching a website class in my hometown (Fort Kent Maine) in January.
Later on in the thread (I jump in and tell her to come to the class because it’s not expensive and very good):
Now I am proof you can take ‘self taught’ to another level. I have three bachelors degrees (that’s another story) but none of them are in communications, marketing, or web design. But even I take classes, seminars, and workshops from others in my field for the following three reasons:
I don’t know what I don’t know.
The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know about a topic. That’s why most people feel dumber their senior year of college than they did their freshman year. They definitely know more… but they are now aware of what they don’t know.
Our orange friend above is aware there are gaps in her knowledge. But she is unsure of what they are since her learning didn’t have a syllabus, she’s learned things as she’s needed to know them, not necessarily how they relate to each other. A good class or book gives you a great general outline and show you what you ought to know.
Getting a vocabulary.
Based on the item above, a good course teaches you a new vocabulary required for your field.
Have you ever tried to do a Google search with a general topic:
Versus a specific topic:
Note the second screenshot had ads that I covered up. The first one did not. In other words, people who did the second query tend to be better customers (and are reached out to more by businesses) than people who ask the very general question.
A class can give you the words you need to do better web searches, can give you book titles the instructor has read (versus reviews from know-it-alls on Amazon), can tell you what products they use daily (not because they are paid to by a website but because they genuinely like them)… and all this can better help yourself in the future.
Seeing someone else’s reasoning/point of view.
Recently, I went to a very basic social media seminar put on by another marketer (Nancy Marshall of Nancy Marshall Communications). And guess what? I learned some things. Because not only is Nancy a great speaker but she’s been doing PR for almost as long as I’ve been alive.
Seeing another point of view, different examples, etc. gives me some much needed other perspective on what I’m doing.
Taking a class, even on a topic you think you know a lot about, will give you new ideas and ways of looking at information. And you’ll likely meet people in the class you can either help out ($) or you can get other people’s opinions (both the instructor and people in the class) about what you are working on.
Even the self taught need to be taught by someone else once in awhile… so if you haven’t taken a class in awhile, I encourage you to do one. It makes you remember what it’s like to learn new topics and helps you do whatever you are trying to do better.
Those who can, teach. And those who can are also taught.