How to Leverage Teaching to Improve Your Surveying Business
In order to be able to effectively teach something, you need to make sure you know it well enough to convey the concept to others. In the process, you’re re-enforcing the information in your own mind. Beyond that, however, teaching is great business. By teaching, you become an authority on the given subject in the eyes of your students. Your students will see you as the person who has all the answers and in the future if they need help, they’ll know who to contact. Your students are all potential customers or partnerships and you’ve already gained their trust through your teaching.
Teach Classes to the Community
This is the most obvious and direct way to become a teacher. Teaching classes to members of your community will provide a conduit for you to get directly in front of potential customers and show them that you know what you’re doing.
Places you could hold classes include community centers and community colleges. You can also contact membership clubs and ask to be a special guest speaker. The subjects you cover should be broad and simple, such as how to find a deed online, how to identify typical survey marks in your area, understanding terminology, etc.
Make sure to plug your business sparingly. Simply passing out your business card at the end should be sufficient. You don’t want the class to seem like a marketing pitch. You want to be genuine in your desire to teach them something and if you succeed, they’ll come to you when they need help.
Write for your Community Paper
Another way to get your name out to the community is to write for your local newspaper. In most cases, the circulation of the paper means that your audience is potentially much larger than if you were to train a group in a classroom. Contact the paper and offer to write a weekly or monthly tech column. You’ll most likely get to plug your name and business at the end of the article. A regular column will work toward establishing your business as a trusted name in surveying. This a badge of honor that you can mention in your advertisements and on your website indefinitely in the future, no matter how many actual articles you write.
One downside to this technique is the engagement of your students, or in this case your readers, is a lot less dramatic than if you were to meet them in a classroom. In person you have the opportunity to connect to each student and really make sure that your message gets through to them. Readers of a column in the local paper may skim it quickly or skip it over altogether. I propose using both techniques in tandem, maybe even mentioning your classes in your article and telling your classroom students to check out your local column. That way you’ll be connecting with your community directly on two fronts, reaching the maximum number of potential targets.
Use Your Blog and Newsletter
We all know by now that we should have a blog on our website. It helps with SEO as well as keeps customers updated, but it can also a great teaching tool. Each new blog post is your opportunity to teach your customers about surveying. Better than classrooms or newspapers, blog posts last forever (or as long as your website is active). They can be a constant source of learning for new visitors to your website and a way to keep people coming back in the future.
Your newsletters are also great places to provide free training. Unlike your blog, a newsletter is specifically targeted at your existing customers. While this doesn’t help get you new customers directly, it does contribute to your image as a helpful and knowledgeable resource for all things surveying.
My Own Success with Teaching
This blog here at RPLS Today is a form of teaching that has benefited my surveying and web development experience. I’m able to pass along my experiences and others can learn from them. By doing so, I feel as though I truly am “learning twice” as it takes extra thought and organization to convey ideas into written blog posts. Plus I’ve made many great contacts through which I’ve learned many new things, things that I would never have known had I not started the blog.
I've also presented at several association conferences in Oregon and Washington, plus other meetings in the Pacific Northwest. It was difficult because I have issues with stage fright, but I forced myself to face my fears and I've learned a lot along the way.
So my advice: get out there and teach, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn!
Have you effectively used any of the above techniques? What kind of results have you seen? Let me know in the comments below!
Amen, brother. I taught surveying at a community college, and for years I taught seminars on surveying for my peers, title companies, and attorneys. It paid off when I opened my own shop because it put me on a lot of recommendation lists. You cannot buy that kind of publicity/marketing/good will. I knew everyone and they knew me. Doesn't hardly get better than that.
For the local Realtor's group, I have presented about the FEMA flood areas and the process of preparing an EC or LOMA request. Results were probably negligible as far as added work due to already doing a good bit of the work from that group. But it was a good client relationship building technique and opened some eyes as to how much work is involved in gathering, processing, and presenting the data.
I would add the idea of presenting seminars for your state professional surveying society as a means of teaching. I prepared a course many years ago for my local chapter and have since been presenting in a fairly regular rotation around the state. I like to point out to my colleagues that we all have areas of knowledge which could benefit others. So anyone can prepare a seminar - it is just a matter of presenting it in such a manner as to not be too dry.