There’s no such thing as standing still in your career. You’re either moving forward, or you’re falling behind. And if you don’t have a plan for moving forward, there’s only one other direction to go. The right professional development can help solve this issue.
5 Professional Development Tips
Your career is essentially a journey. You start with very minimal knowledge and experience. But as the journey progresses, you acquire new skills. You learn how to be resourceful, flexible, and creative. Your confidence builds and you ultimately acquire the traits needed to become a leader.
For most people, it takes an entire 30- or 40-year career to do this. But if you’re committed to your professional development, you can grow at a much more efficient pace.
With that being said, here are a few professional development tips to help you advance in your career, regardless of your industry.
1. Always Be Networking
In business, people live by the ABS acronym. It stands for always be selling. As a professional, you need to live by the ABN acronym – always be networking. It doesn’t matter where you are or what day of the week it is; you need to stay in networking mode 24/7.
Networking doesn’t just happen at industry conferences or business-sponsored happy hours. It happens at the little league ballpark when your kid is playing t-ball. It happens when you’re having dinner on a Friday night and you meet new people at the bar. It also happens on LinkedIn and Facebook. You should always be networking. It’s not a switch you flip on or off.
2. Invest in Continuing Education
Whether it’s required or not by your employer, you should invest in continuing education on an ongoing basis. Rather than viewing it as a chore (which is what most of your peers do), see it as an opportunity to grow.
When it comes to continuing education, choosing the right course provider is key. There are tons of companies out there, but only a few offer high-quality, reliable instruction. Last Minute CEU’s is an example of a company that does it right. They focus on respiratory therapy CEU credits and offer a variety of course formats and topics.
3. Challenge Yourself
Laziness is something that comes naturally. It’s actually a biological mechanism for preserving energy. And though a little laziness is fine every now and then, excessive laziness becomes detrimental. If you feel like you can do your job on autopilot, this is probably a good sign that you aren’t growing as a person or professional. You need to challenge yourself.
The best thing you can do for your professional development is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. If your employer isn’t doing it for you, you’ll have to take charge.
“Every job has certain tasks that involve a bit more thought and time investment, which employees tend to shy away from during their day-to-day work life,” entrepreneur Nicole Hart writes. “In order to challenge yourself, you have to take these tasks head-on; embrace the challenge and learn something new from it.”
It won’t always be easy in the moment, but a commitment to challenging yourself will lead to significant growth and professional development.
4. Find Mentors
You’ve probably heard the idea that you become the combination of the four or five people you spend the most time with – and it’s true! So make sure you’re spending time with the type of people you want to become. Finding two or three mentors is a great place to begin.
5. Teach a Class
In addition to being mentored, you should take some time to mentor. More specifically, try teaching a class on the subjects and skills that you’re currently acquiring and refining.
Something happens in the brain when you teach a concept. It forces you to articulate and explain, which further strengthens the knowledge inside your own brain. People who teach concepts (rather than just learn them) tend to have better long-term memory and recall.
Putting it All Together
Professional development is something that requires time, energy, and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you can’t buy it at a weekend seminar. It’s something you have to invest in week after week and month after month. But if you implement some of the suggestions highlighted above, your growth will happen at a much faster pace.