While looking for a professional development event online I found a fantastic organization Invest Ottawa. Invest Ottawa’s mission is “to make Ottawa the best place in Canada to start and grow a business.” They offer business seminars and workshops on a variety of topics ranging from business planning, web design, marketing, human resources, legal issues, importing/exporting and financing. They are targeted to entrepreneurs and small business owners and are run by experienced professionals wanting to share their knowledge. The best part is a lot of these workshops are free!
I attended a workshop, “Building a Website and an Online Presence,” which was hosted by Invest Ottawa and SiLK Web Solutions. I chose this event because I am very interested in learning more about website design. I have recently started my own blog and I wanted to learn more about building a user friendly website. I also figured the building an online presence portion would tie nicely into what we have learned in our courses in the Social Media program. It was also going to be touching on SEO best practices which I find very interesting in creating my own website. Our teacher, Sarah Green, from SiLK Web Solutions was fantastic! She was so knowledgeable and very patient with all of our questions! Her presentation was very well thought out, easy to understand and very informative.
We learned a lot and had many ideas that we could take away. We learned the importance of having a dynamic website instead of a static website. Sarah taught us the importance of PLAN when planning our website. P stands for prepare – who is your audience? L stands for landscape – what kind of site do you want? A stands for Aesthetics – what colours and images do you want? N stands for Navigation – what pages do you need for a good visitor experience – site map. Sarah said that when planning a website we should have the majority of our information above the fold (the area before you have to scroll). I found this very interesting, as I had not considered it before, but even from personal experience it makes sense. Sarah did a fantastic job walking us through the whole process from creating a site, launching a site and finally marketing a site. She also stressed the importance of social media and keeping fresh content throughout our online presence. While at the event I heard two quotes that stood out. One about our websites and online presence, “Rethink, Refresh and Revise.” Sarah explained we should always be changing and re-evaluating our online presence. The other quote I really liked was at the end of the workshop. Sarah reminded us, “Always be giving back to your community – you cannot always be taking!” She offers this course monthly for free to give back to the community that has brought her so much success! I thought this was a great reminder and something important to keep in mind.
Attending this event allowed me to build my professional network by meeting some local entrepreneurs. I had a chance to learn about their businesses and ideas. I also had a chance to share about my business idea and my blog. One of the ladies I spoke with even offered to take a look at my site and help me build my use of keywords for SEO. I also was able to tap into their experiences so far in becoming entrepreneurs. I suggested we exchange contact information for a meet up in a months’ time to talk about our experiences implementing the strategies we learned at the workshop. I look forward to being able to tap into these new connections and learn from their experiences and expertise!
I also had a chance to speak with some of the other instructors about classes they would be teaching that would be coming up in November. One of the classes is about building great content that is optimized for SEO but also content that people want to read. I also head about another course being offered in November for Google Analytics, taught by David Bird. I am very excited to take these courses when the time comes.
I will definitely attend a similar event in the future and I already have a few on my radar. I think these events are so fantastic and they are free which is awesome! I love that they are run by industry leaders in our own community! I also love that they are attended by like-minded people who are interested in learning more about the industry. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and build a professional network. It is also a great opportunity to learn more from these knowledgeable people. I highly recommend you check out Invest Ottawa for courses that may interest you!