We can't always put down our work, shell out a few hundred (thousand) bucks, dump the kids with our spouse, and hit the road for a conference. That doesn't stop us from wanting ways to better ourselves. Here are some tips on ways to educate yourself when you can't get out from under real life for long enough to get there and back. (Note: another big part of conferences is networking and actually kicking the tires on products and ideas. I think conferences matter. This is just for when you can't quite get there.)
There are lots of places to find interesting video for your growth besides YouTube. For one, check out Google Video, which has more longer-form content. Check out Blip.tv for even more. If you want ideas about the future at large, check out TED and POPTech. Still want more?
There are a few places to check here: video/tv as well as Podcasts. There are plenty of great podcasts and learning resources inside iTunes. There are huge chunks of educational material inside iTunes U as well. Even if you don't have an iPod, you can watch or listen to these on your computer.
Crave the interaction of others? There are many very active online forums. Heck, you're reading this post at one. Have you checked out the "forums" part of OPEN Forum? I'm really excited about these types of opportunities, as I recently co-founded an online forum for marketers called Third Tribe Marketing. It's a group of two thousand or so professionals all talking about marketing. OPEN Forum is about business. You're a florist? Great. I'm sure there's a group for you. That's my biggest advice on this front: don't presume that your forum doesn't exist.
Oh yeah, remember those? Books are still a great value in learning, provided we do a few things to get the most from them. First, while reading the book, jot down notes, including page numbers, so you revisit the points that made the most sense. Second, seek out online forums talking about the book. Amazon.com has some great conversations going on; you just have to scroll down a bit. Your bonus hint: don't just read about your profession or business niche. Read way outside the lines sometimes. You'll be surprised what comes back from that.
You can't always run out to the conferences and trade shows that enrich your profession or business niche. That said, you can't just choose to stop learning. The above are a few examples of what you can do to keep the learning alive. There are no doubt more ways to do that. You want to add yours?Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of the NEW book, Social Media 101. He is president of New Marketing Labs, LLC, and blogs at chrisbrogan.com.