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NRENs explore opportunities and challenges in training: SIG-Marcomms & SIG-MSP joint meeting

The Special Interest Group on Marketing and Communications (SIG-Marcomms) met virtually for their Spring meeting on March 21 and 22.  For the first day, the group joined forces with the Special Interest Group on Service Management Portfolio (SIG-MSP) to bring to the Community insightful presentations and a fruitful discussion on training.

Training is a way that some NRENs make themselves known to new audiences, raise awareness of what an NREN is, or increase visibility of the NREN brand. Training can also support products that are offered and expand the uptake of service offerings; but training is also a product or service in its own right, for some taking a clear role in the NREN strategy and their marketing communications support activities.

The conversation was started by several NRENs from the global Community. AARNET, Jisc, CANARIE, SURF, CSC and ARNES all delivered presentations on how they have been evolving their training activities, what challenges they have encountered or, if the NREN does not have a training offer, why it does not fit their current marketing and/or strategic plans.

The session also included breakout rooms, where smaller groups of participants could elaborate on their NREN’s experience with training as a service and/or a marketing tool.

During the discussion it was noted that a lack of internal resources was one of the primary reasons for NRENs being unable to offer training as a service to their customers or give their training offer a more structured approach. Some NRENs use third parties to deliver training on their behalf – however, some have actively chosen not to, as third parties often do not appreciate the nuances associated with the R&E sector and therefore want to avoid diluting the NREN brand.

Due to COVID many NRENs saw training course attendance jump as a result of the move to online format. There was also a strong increase in popularity of training on the topics of cybersecurity and connectivity.

Overall, all NRENs agreed that the delivery of training services can be a marketing exercise in its own right and is a great opportunity to promote the brand, increase dialogue and service uptake.

All participants were open-minded about sharing training resources and, in fact, some are already taking a joint approach to course delivery. They also showed interest in further community sharing in this area to highlight the benefits training can have on service uptake and brand awareness and suggested that this could be achieved by examining the business model and tangible benefits of delivering training services as part of an NREN’s portfolio.

During the meeting, Sarah Hughes, GÉANT Senior Learning & Development Manager, presented the available training opportunities at GÉANT Learning & Development (GLAD) and how the Community can take advantage of the offer.

The second day of the meeting was dedicated to SIG-Marcomms only. After a few updates on various marketing and communications initiatives, Leonardo Marino, GÉANT Communications Officer, delivered a thorough presentation with practical examples on how to construct a searchable data dashboard for social media. Leonardo showed templates and included guidelines, which were well received from the participants, especially those interested in embarking in a similar activity in the near future.

All the slides and the recordings of the presentations from the SIG-Marcomms/SIG-MSP joint meeting are available on the wiki page.

SIG-Marcomms will meet again face to face on June 17th  2022, after TNC22 in Trieste. The agenda for this side meeting is being developed and will be available soon. Register to attend the event.