I recently had an AMI agency ask me which 2016 content management conferences for agencies I would recommend they consider putting into the budget.

First — bravo to the agency for actually baking professional development into their budget.  Most agencies underspend in this area and it costs them their best talent. A recent survey showed that agency employees consider being sent to a workshop, conference or other professional development opportunity as being equal to a 17% raise.

Whether they are telling you or not — your people want to keep getting better.  You have a responsibility and frankly it’s just smart business, to help them sharpen their saw.  Do they have a responsibility too?  You bet.  I wouldn’t send anyone to a conference or workshop if you don’t see evidence of them also trying to learn on their own and them bringing that new knowledge into the agency as a teacher.

You co-own the responsibility and the best employees are the ones who are hungry to learn and to teach their peers.

And of course, whether they want to get better or not — you NEED them to get better.  You invest so much into your people and they are your primary source of revenue, so you’d better keep investing in them. In our world today — even if you know everything today, you will be woefully behind in a blink if you don’t keep adding to your knowledge base. So your folks need to keep improving.  If not, you have to keep trading up and that gets very expensive.

And it should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway — YOU my agency owner friend also need to keep sharpening your skills, knowledge and exposure to what’s going on in your industry.  (Check out our owner-centric workshops here)

But if you are looking for some conferences built for agencies who are trying to hone their content game — here are the ones I think serve small to mid-sized (1 FTE to 300 FTEs) best.

In all cases, it’s going to be more about trends, tools etc. than actual learning about HOW to do anything if that makes sense.

2016 content management conferences for agencies

Among this list are the super huge (Social Media Marketing Conference) to the smaller and more intimate (BOLO) and many in between.

The secret to professional development success is what you do before and after the conference.  Before the conference, have whoever you are sending get a list of attendees, speakers and exhibitors if there are any.  They should do a little homework and identify 5 – 10 people that they/you want them to connect with during the conference.  Have them set up appointments ahead of time to make sure it happens.

The other thing you need to do before the workshop or conference is to schedule an all staff (or whatever subset of staff makes sense, given the content) Lunch and Learn.  Get it on everyone’s calendar and make it mandatory.  (It’s annoying to prep for something like this and then have your co-workers blow it off.  Either commit 100% or don’t waste your money.)

During the conference, have your attendee leverage Facebook, LinkedIn and any other networking community that makes sense.

Post conference — meet with your employee/s who attended the workshop/conference and review their Lunch and Learn outline.  You want to make sure it’s time well spent.

Review their recommendations on how the agency should incorporate what they learned and how they can further the connections they made.  And thank them to being willing to get better and help the entire team get better.

Give serious thought to these 2016 content management conferences for agencies. Invest well, invest often and make sure you get the most from your investments.  Do that and you’ll create loyal, growing team members and a culture that says knowing what we know today is not enough.