Check the end of this post for a special giveaway!

I am a huge advocate of training and education, especially when it comes to gaining a better understanding of the world of digital marketing. While there’s a certain point where you need to just hit publish, there’s also a point where being in a classroom (virtual or otherwise) can really help you to get focused on the right areas to move a digital strategy forward, or glean a few new ways of doing things. It’s why my company has spent so much time developing a series of digital marketing courses that are more than just “how to tweet”. Having a strategic approach to building and sharing great content is really important. Being smart about how you use your time online to accomplish business and personal goals is vital.

Being in a classroom has great benefits, but there’s nothing quite like going to a great conference. Being able to spend focused time learning from the top people in your industry is a wonderful way to learn and extend your knowledge. It can take you from a basic knowledge of something into the realm of becoming a real smarty pants about it. And that’s a good thing. But even more than that, I find the hallway conversations at conferences to be absolutely invaluable. Let’s face it – we are all busy people and we don’t always have a lot of time for in-person interaction. Conferences provide a great outlet for being able to meet and interact with friends new and old that we may only otherwise interact with online.

I try to make it to at least one or two conferences per year, and I’m usually pretty picky about the ones I attend. They tend to be smaller – rather than thousands of people milling about, I stick to the ones that are only a few hundred deep. I look for sessions that dig deep too – focusing on more than just “Facebook 101”, but getting to the heart of the latest trends and topics. I check out the speakers too – visiting their web sites to really understand who they are and if I’m lucky, watching a few of their presentations online to get a sense of what I might glean from seeing them live.

I head into the conference with a blank note book and an open mind, and I’m rarely disappointed.

May 31st and June 1st in Ottawa (my hometown), there’s a conference happening that meets all of the above criteria, the Social Capital Conference. It’s not too big, not too small, and has a great lineup of speakers too. Smarty pantses like Bob LeDrew, Mark Blevis, Gini Dietrich and Danny Brown will be there, among many others. I’m thrilled to be part of it too – on Friday May 31st I’m doing a morning workshop on digital storytelling, and in the afternoon that day, I’ll be working with my esteemed colleagues Anthony Wong and Shawn MacDonnell on an interactive session that brings together digital storytelling, video and social into one epic 3 hour, hands-on workshop. Then on Saturday, I’m honoured to be joining Eden Spodek, Martin Waxman, and Diane Begin on a panel called “Social Media Goes to College”, where we’ll be discussing the merits of social media education.

If you’re around Ottawa next week, I strongly recommend you hit up Social Capital. There are still a few spaces available in the workshops on Friday, and there’s going to be an awesome crowd in attendance on the Saturday. You can get your tickets here. 

And wouldn’t you know, I just happen to have one full conference ticket to give away. This will get you into both the workshop day (Friday May 31st) and the conference day (Saturday June 1st). It’s a $329 value! All you need to do is leave a comment below (including a valid email address!) telling me why you’d love to come to Social Capital. I’ll put all the commenters’ names in a hat, and will draw the winner on Monday May 27th.

Hope to see you at the conference!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Don Chow and Lisa Mounteer who were our lucky winners!