Corina Manea

How Much is Your Professional Development Worth?

By: Corina Manea | September 27, 2016 | 

How Much Is Your Professional Development Worth?Your career is your business, and like it or not, you should treat it as such.

Just like you would do for a business, you should invest in your career.

You should invest time, effort, and money.

Your professional development is most likely the only chance you have to succeed in today’s world.

There so much noise out there you need to cut through.

You need to be authentic and different and everywhere.

But how can you do that?

By investing in your professional development.

I am not talking about going back to school and taking yet another class on PR or marketing.

Though school has it place in this world, I believe it does not prepare you for the real world.

It didn’t happen to me, and I see lots of graduates from around the world who have no idea what to do and where to go when they’re finished.

Professional development is not going back to school, at least not in my books.

It is investing in learning, becoming better at your craft, and learning new skills every single day.

You can do that by reading books, blogs, newspapers, taking online courses, or talking to people smarter than you.

Let’s look at how each of the above help you become a better professional.

How to Invest in Your Professional Development

Read Books

As a PR professional whether you just got out of school or are a seasoned pro, reading books on PR, digital marketing helps you stay updated while learning new stuff.

Nothing new so far, right?

Here is where you can stand out: Read business books and personal development books.

To master your craft, you need different perspectives.

You need to learn how a business is run.

It will help you apply that to your own career, but also help you better understand what your stakeholders and clients need to know about your work and how you can help them increase the bottom line.

Personal development books will help you become a better, smarter more motivated person.

You think you don’t need that?

Stop reading and turn your TV on, and let’s talk after that.

Investing in smart books is investing in your professional development.

Take Online Courses

I said I don’t believe in going back to school to improve your professional development, but I am a huge believer in taking online courses from business courses to courses on PR and digital marketing—like this one from our friend, Michael Smart.

Through online courses you will learn what’s new and current, you will be part of a community of like-minded people with whom you can talk and brainstorm ideas or solutions to particular issues you’re working on.

You can take those courses over and over again.

And every time you will find something new to learn as well as see things differently.

Yes, you will learn new things from the same course you took more than once.

It’s just like re-reading a book you read when you were young.

You see and understand it differently now.

Make sure you look for and take the best online courses on the market.

And make the habit of taking at least one new course per quarter.

If you want to speed up your professional development, take one every month.

You’ll see huge improvements.

And before you start whining about time or money, let me stop you right there!

If it’s important for you, you’ll find the money and the time to do it.

Think like a business owner.

Business owners create budgets for each area of their business, including professional development.

So when you plan New Year’s resolutions make sure to include a budget for exactly that.

Ideally it would be monthly, but if it’s not possible, make it per quarter.

Oh, did I mention that taking an online course is not enough, that you actually have to put into practice what you learned?

Yes, you need to take action.

Talk to People Smarter Than You

Or otherwise known as networking.

Set aside time each day or week to connect with like-minded professionals.

Social media makes it easy for you.

Make smart comments on their tweets, or become friends on Facebook, or comment on their Instagram images or Snapchat or whatever social network they are on.

It’s easier than ever to reach and connect with smart people who can help you become a better version of you.

Jim Rohn said we are the sum of the five people we hang out with.

Make sure you’re hanging out with the right crowd.

Whether you meet those people in real life or online, make it a habit to constantly connect and meet new people.

You’ll be exposed to different ways of thinking, you’ll learn to see things from a different perspective you never thought of before, you’ll feel challenged and uncomfortable.

And that means one thing: You’re growing.

Be smart, invest in your professional development today and you’ll reap the benefits tomorrow.

About Corina Manea

Corina Manea is the chief community officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She works directly with Spin Sucks students and writes for the award-winning PR blog. She also is the founder of NutsPR. Join the Spin Sucks  community!

  • When I hear people say, “I don’t have time to read” or “I don’t have time to attend that event/workshop/conference etc..” I automatically think that they don’t care about their personal growth. Sure, time and finances are a constraint, but like you said if you care enough you’ll make it happen.

    I have found that I really need to be my own advocate. I have yet to be rejected when asking to attend a conference or sign up for an online course. But, that’s the key – I have to ask. Rarely will your boss tell you to take an online course. You have to seek them out and show how the knowledge you’ll learn will also benefit your employers.

    I’m curious, is there a specific business book you would recommend?

    • Corina Manea

      Great point, Hanna.

      Indeed you need to ask to receive. This waiting for someone else to send you to courses or conferences, is like sitting at home and waiting for someone to knock on your door and offer you a job! Ain’t gonna happen.

      As for business books, I am currently reading “Traction” by Gino Wickman (recommended by Gini) and “Made in America” by Sam Walton.

      Another great book also recommended by Gini that I read a few weeks ago is “Built to Sell” by John Warrillow.

      If you read them would love to hear your thoughts on them.

      • Awesome! I’ll check them out and let you know.

        • Laura Petrolino

          I second on Traction. I also recently read Relentless, which isn’t a business book per say, but really helped me think through how I respond or react to things vs. others, and just the different roles people take on a team/situation.

          • Laura Petrolino

            Oh…and if you haven’t read it already, Tipping Point is one of my favorites, I’ve read it several times.

          • Corina Manea

            Added both to my reading list. Thanks, Laura.

          • Great, thanks Laura!

  • Great reminders of the importance of the learning journey. I think people definitely minimize the value of connections via social media. The internet is teeming with experts and inspirational thought leaders in our field. They’re true pros who are often quick to share valuable insight.

    • Corina Manea

      Thank you for your comment Jody.

      The Internet is probably the greatest gift we could have received. Almost everything we want is at our fingertips.

      Social media took learning and networking to a totally different level.

      In the end, it’s up to us to take advantage of these resources.

  • I read voraciously (online and off). However, I’m terrible about finishing “on my own time” courses even if I’ve paid for them. I took one with Shonali Burke and another with Copyblogger that were great (and free). Both kept us on task with deliverables. I’m all about lifelong learning for sure and this post is a nice reminder of what’s available to you.

    • I struggle with the “on my own time” coursework too, Kristy. It’s definitely an exercise in prioritizing.

      • Corina Manea

        That’s true, Paula. It’s all about prioritizing.

        I found that if I add a book or an online course on my daily or weekly to-do list, it gets done. If not, I forget about them.

        So what I do is set a timer for 15-30 minutes to read and 1 hour per week for an online course.

        I read in the morning, before starting my day, and the online course I leave it for Fridays, which are usually slower days.

  • Laura Petrolino

    “Your career is your business,” YESSSS!!

    I think in many ways the key to being proactive in professional development is prioritizing it, just as you do any other aspect of your job. This is something I’m constantly trying to find the right balance for. There are certain things I schedule in my day (such as my leadership coaching calls, and work associated with that) and keep those things sacred, just as I would any other meeting or task. Then there are things I do in the evenings, such as reading articles I’ve saved or listening to business or professional development books, or industry podcasts on Audible while I”m out for my evening walk. If you think about it, I walk for about two hours each night….and that gives me a lot of time to listen and learn. It’s all about finding what works for you…and then sticking to it.

    Really great tips here!

    • Corina Manea

      Thanks so much, Laura.

      Yes, it’s about finding what works for you and just doing it, no excuses.

  • Love it, Corina!

    “Talk to People Smarter Than You –
    Or otherwise known as networking.”

    Couldn’t have said it better 😉

    And I totally agree with everything you’ve said about reading books. As helpful as blogs (like this one) can be, it’s hard the replace the deep dive of a book. I am a huge user of my local library, and have been able to read/listen to hundreds of books over the years for just a few bucks in late fees. But I don’t even have to worry about that now that the library emails me when they are due.

    • Corina Manea

      Thank you, DFish!

      I love books. There is nothing that can impact me more than a good book.

      Though I like having hard copy books, in the last few years I found myself reading many more books on my iPad. It’s easy to storage hundreds of books (just did a count the other day and I have about 400 books on it!)

      I can read at night without the light bothering my significant other, I can take it with me when I travel. It weighs nothing. My makeup case weighs more than the iPad!

      And I don’t have to wait weeks for them to arrive, because you know I am on another continent.

      As much as I like video, I prefer books anytime.

      Thank you for stopping by.