Loving the Lunch and Learn…

I try to go to a lot of professional development luncheons. If you know me, this is not really news. It’s a habit I developed three years ago when I made a career switch from the agency life to the public sector. I always plan ahead a month in advance and scan all of the local association web site calendars for upcoming media breakfasts. marketing communications-oriented lunches or evening lectures. Fortunately, there is rarely a scheduling conflict, as each has its own different set date each month.

When I see a topic or speaker of interest or one that is related to my job, I print it out, register and tuck it in my “Professional Development Folder.” Yes, I am a planning nerd and a bit of a pack rat when it comes to events, brochures, fliers, magazines and business cards. I always look forward to learning new insights and tips from the guest speaker at each outing. Even if I am out of budget with my position, I will pay my own way for some of these lunches. After a decade in sports PR and a couple years at an agency, I made a conscious effort to be proactive in my life-long learning; and I firmly believe in investing in myself whenever I am able to and wherever there is a function that has some appeal to me.

The luncheons are primarily a good distance from my office;  granted this involves a fair amount of commute time, so I make whatever adjustments that need to be made to ensure it will fit into my schedule. If that means coming in early or staying late, so be it. The drawback to jamming the drive and lunch into my routine is that I rarely have time to hobnob with colleagues before or after, as I usually have to jet to get back on track for the afternoon or morning.

Occasionally, the topic or speaker may be a retread for me, but I still will make the effort when feasible and seek to glean some other value from each respective presentation. And, yes, I have had a lot of chicken and lasagna! But there is always dessert to tackle as you head into the Q&A portion of the preso.

The time commitment, often ensuing stress and lengthy drives are generally worth it for me. I always come away from each presentation with a full-page of notes from each speaker as well as ideas that come to mind to apply in my own job or personal endeavors. I keep thinking to myself that I will one day try to transcribe, consolidate and edit the notes from the last two year’s worth of lunches, but we know that’s doubtful to occur. Plus, my penmanship is horrifying, so there are times I even have trouble deciphering the points I wrote. I’m left-handed, so that’s my excuse for that.

So, yes, I am a luncheon fiend and proud of it. It beats hitting the drive-through or running home for leftovers some days.

See you at the next lunch-and-learn; I’ll be the one heading for the door right after the Q&A…and I apologize if I arrive too late to mingle or have to slip out after a quick hello!

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