Leap Into These Online Professional Development ResourcesBy Laura Petrolino

Leap day, leap day, everyone loves leap day….and online professional development. Wheeeee….

There is something special about leap day—women are encouraged to propose, leap day babies get to celebrate their birthday on their actual birthday, you can randomly leap through the air for no reason at all and not be judged (because, duh…you are just celebrating the day).

To me it’s also always felt like a special opportunity to make a wish or set a new course for the next four years—until the next leap day has come along and you can see how you’ve done. Sort of like a longer range New Year’s resolutions.

It’s a leap day resolution.

On-going Learning: Something to “Leap” About

So what better day to re-commit yourself to on-going professional learning?

Because any successful professional knows learning doesn’t stop just because you aren’t in school. And in fact, the ultimate “grade” you need to earn is one of a successful career. To do so many of the same elements apply—hard work, drive, and a commitment to learning.

The good news is on-going learning is easier than ever with all the online professional development resources available.

So, as my leap day gift to you, I’m compiling some of my favorite online professional development resources (both those here on Spin Sucks and elsewhere).

My only request in return is that you choose at least one (it could be as big as signing up for an online course or as small as reading an article you’ve had opened in a tab for the past week) to do today.

After all you need to start your leap day resolution off on the right foot, right?

The What, Why, and How of Learning

Back in the fall I wrote the back to school guide for the PR professional, where I discuss the importance of constantly learning and some things you should do to make it a priority. Start there to get motivated to get your learn on.

Shortly after, Gini followed up with three ways to invest in yourself through learning, in which she provides advice about how to fit learning into a busy schedule.

Brian Tracy provides an interesting look at the three types of learning: Maintenance learning, growth learning, and shock learning. You might want to review these and think about which type most of your current professional development efforts fit into.

Harvard Business Review discusses why lifelong learners make better leaders and how to improve your employee development programs and encourage learning amongst your team.

We’ve always put a focus on learning and are are starting a few new professional development efforts, which I’ll report back on later.

Psychology Today discusses the importance of curiosity and how to nurture it, as well as why commitment to learning will help you stay young (botox for the brain?).

Online Professional Development You’ll Want to Leap into

And now with out further ado, here is a VERY non-complete list of online professional development resources you need to check out today.

Now obviously a post here about online professional development would not be complete without a mention of Spin Sucks Pro.

Not only do we have a very comprehensive list of webinars (check out my 2015 year end post for some of our favorites from last year) for you to choose from, but we also have the Modern Blogging Masterclass and mastermind coaching groups, both which will re-open again soon (sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of this post, if you aren’t already, to make sure you are notified when they do).

Now enough about us….here are some other non-Spin Sucks online professional development resources to dig into:

  • Get your data learning on with this list of resources to help you up your data game and become groovy with Google Analytics.
  • Harvard Business Review is always a great source for a variety of online professional development opportunities. Everything from free articles, to ebooks and white papers—covering every function from leadership and management to project management and productivity.
  • I recently found the CEO Daily from Fortune. Even if you aren’t a CEO this is a great resource for interesting case studies and insight.
  • Cision compiled a great list of online professional development resources for PR professionals worth checking out.
  • Content Marketing Institute, Marketing Profs, and HubSpot are obvious resources that shouldn’t be missed. Lots of gems can be found in their paid and free content.
  • Speaking of which, everyone who ends the week with one million open tabs of online professional development articles or resources they want to read but sit in an open tab of “I’ll get to it soon?” raise their hands. (RAISES HAND). I LOVE Pocket for that struggle. I now try to put these resources in my Pocket and check it at the end of each day to choose one thing to read. If an article is important enough for me to read it, I’ll make sure I do before the start of the following week, if not…I dump it. Part of the online professional development game is priorities—you can’t do it all and if you try you’ll most likely end up doing nothing.
  • Duh…Corsera!
  • Not all online professional development opportunities are visual in nature. Don’t forget all the really great podcasts out there. And while marketing and PR podcasts are an obvious choice, I often find I get the most out of non-industry podcasts, such as This American Life or StoryCorp…because (shock and awe…) storytelling is what we do, and that’s the focus of these podcasts as well).
  • Likewise, don’t be afraid to look outside the communications box when looking for professional development resources. Learning for the sake of learning can be very valuable as well, for a variety of reasons.
  • Needless to say there are countless individual blogs and thought leaders to turn to as online professional development resources. For example, Christopher Penn’s weekly newsletter always gives a great round up, Michael Smart offers some great resources for earned media, and I love Valeria Maltoni’s weekly “Learning Habit Newsletter.”

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST. Only a tiny sampling to show there are a rich variety of great resources among our colleagues that should always be tapped into (aka, if I didn’t include you here it doesn’t mean I don’t love you…I do, I promise…well at least some of you).

Whew…I”ll stop there and turn the leap day learning stage to you.

Which online professional development resources would you include?

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino