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
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.