We work in an in industry which offers very little in the way of professional development opportunities for agency account managers (either local or online). Given this apparent lack of formal training, and the speed at which technology is advancing, what can you do to ensure that you get the career support that you need and stay up-to-date?
If you are curious - in life and in work - you will be motivated and interested enough to want to know more about what is new, and exciting and useful. Curious people are fascinated by the world around them and they soak up information like a sponge. Curiousity is an essential ingredient for maximising your ongoing professional development.
If you are extremely fortunate, your agency will facilitate ongoing training for you and your account management team. If they do not, you will need to take the responsibility for your professional development into your own hands.
Learning shouldn't be a one-hit wonder - one workshop here, or one online webinar there. Learning can be a daily joy that can last your whole life IF you are open and willing to the possibilities. Life-long learners are never content to just know what they know, but are always eager to know more, no matter what their age or career stage may be.
Curious and eager people ask a load of questions. They want to find out all about people, things, and technology. They like to talk to others and glean information. Carefully-crafted questions can yield a wealth of career-boosting goodness.
Suppliers are great pools of information. You are their valued client, and so it is in their best interest to ensure you know and appreciate their business as much as possible. Therefore, they should be more than happy to give you any information that you need, and keep you up-to-date with new products or services. You could also ask to be taken on a tour of their premises or manufacturing plant (e.g. to see printing processes; paper making; paper supply; warehousing and logistics; merchandising; etc).
Your internal agency team is simply loaded with amazing talent and knowledge. If you want to know a bit more about coding, why don't you sit with your developer for 10 minutes and ask him a question? If you want to understand how to identify target markets, why not ask your strategist? Most people are happy to impart their knowledge and will be flattered that you thought to ask them. Your team can give you free, quick and friendly advice when you need it.
Mentors can help push you to new levels in your career and ensure that you never stagnate. You can ask them to hold you accountable for your own career development, whilst at the same time learning all you can from your mentor's own career journey - their mistakes, their wins, and stories.
There should be a range of industry bodies and associations located somewhere near you. You may be able to tap into these organisations for resources, events, workshops, seminars, and courses. The courses may not be totally relevant to account management or agency life, but they may help to give you complementary knowledge or tools for your career.
There are plenty of online courses that are suitable for account managers. Many are super-cheap, and sometimes free. These courses might cover sales, negotiation, marketing, basic accounting, etc. Check out Coursera and Udemy as starting points.
Hopefully most countries should offer at least one local eDM (email newsletter). They may be facilitated by an industry association, training institution, publisher, or interest group. A wealth of insight and knowledge can be gained by reading about campaign successes and failures; agency mergers or closures; staff movement and role changes; awards; client wins and losses, etc. These eDMs are usually free to subscribe to.
Reading is a super-food for your brain (and your career). Whether you like to consume information in long-form book format or in short, social media-style posts, the main thing is that you consume. The more voracious your reading consumption, the more equipped you will be to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk when required.
If you need to learn something new, your education is just one search term away.