Whether it’s more responsibility, more money or just a better office, professional development is essential for anyone who wants to advance their career and stay relevant in their field.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or a seasoned C-suite director, there are always new skills to learn and opportunities to grow.
Here are 5 key strategies to grade yourself on that can make sure your career is heading in the right direction.
1: Identify your goals
You’ve got a much better chance of achieving something if you have a clear idea of what exactly you want to achieve. The first step in enhancing your development is to identify your goals. Do you want to become a top salesperson, be responsibilities for running your own team, or be promoted to Hawaii? Once you have identified your goals, you can create a plan of action to achieve them.
Q: Without having to make them up right now, can you state your specific career goals?
2: Be proactive with training opportunities
There might be many training opportunities available to help you enhance your professional development.
These can include attending conferences, workshops, or seminars, taking online courses, or pursuing a degree or certification program.
But just because the one that interests you the most isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean it’s out of the question.
Talk to HR.
Do your own investigating.
Have a word in your directors ear.
As director of my own company, I’ve had employees come to me and ask if they could attend a training event they know about. So long as I could see why it was a win/win opportunity, I was happy to applaud their initiative and authorise the payment.
Q: When was the last time you proactively attend a training event or course?
3: Build your network
I recently interviewed a managing director who credited a very large part of his success to networking.
Building relationships with colleagues, mentors, and industry leaders can provide you with valuable insights and opportunities for growth.
Networking can be a long game strategy, where the effects can ripple through time to return dividends years from now.
The person I refer to mentioned how he recently got a lucrative contract from someone he actively sought out to meet twenty five years ago.
So make sure when you go to your next conference, professional community meeting or networking event, don't just socialise with the faces you know. Break the ice with a few new ones and add them to your contacts.
Q: How would you rate your networking skills? How many new and relevant names do you add to your contacts?
4: Seek feedback and mentorship
Feedback and mentorship can help you identify areas for improvement and provide guidance on how to enhance your professional development. Seek out feedback from colleagues and supervisors, and look for opportunities to work with a mentor who can provide you with valuable insights and advice.
Q: Do you have someone in your business to whom you can turn and ask ‘How am I doing?’ If not, who could that person be?
5: Start a Learning Club
If you’re serious about committing to continuous development throughout your career, you need to make it a regular part of your timetable.
In my previous blogs, I explain how to start and run a Learning Club, - but essentially it’s getting together with 3 other colleagues of a similar mindset and together, make it a regular occurrence to report on your progresses, goals, setbacks and to support each other to keep learning.
A Learning Club can incorporate the previous 4 strategies and combine them into a thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling way to move ahead with your professional plans.
Q: Which 3 people could team together with you to create your own Learning Club? When would be a good time to ask them?
Careers don’t progress automatically. It’s often a question of promotion of the fittest. By identifying your goals, taking advantage of training opportunities, building your network, seeking feedback and mentorship, and creating a Learning Club, you can make sure you’re next in line to advance your career.
Keep learning. Keep moving upwards.