Investing in yourself IS investing in your business and should be viewed as a business strategy. Unfortunately, many business owners pass up professional development because their bank account can’t support that expense right now.
How you show up in your business and the impression you leave with potential clients whether having a phone conversation or a visit to your website helps them determine whether or not they think you’re a “good fit” to do business with when it comes to hiring a career professional to their job search or anything career related.
You ARE your business. Investing in your business by hiring a virtual assistant (VA), search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, website manager, implementing a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, or getting email marking software to streamline processes are great ways to help move your business forward. But, what I’m stressing here is you. What about you the person, the one who runs the show?
No matter how long you’ve been in business, there’s always something new to learn. Professional development events like formal conferences serve as perfect springboards to network. They offer many ways to build new relationships, expand your horizons, and pick up new ideas and strategies to implement when you get home.
Conferences also serve as a great way to recharge your batteries by getting out of the office setting, allowing you the opportunity to meet face-to-face with people you’ve only known virtually.
If you’re in a financial position to attend as many conferences as you want and you’re able to get away from the office for 3-5 days to attend each of them, kudos to you! But I know for some, the travel cost added to registration and hotel costs just doesn’t make sense, especially when you consider the cost of the missing time from work.
Please don’t let a shoestring budget stop you from developing professionally, just get creative. Conferences certainly aren’t the only option. Below are a few simple ways you can invest in your own professional development and you won’t have to spend a fortune!
- Read – Your local library can be your best friend; how else could you browse through all of the latest and greatest business books without spending a dime? And if you haven’t actually bought the book, you’ll be less tempted to keep reading if you’re not getting anything out of it. When you read online, use a feed reader to keep track of the bloggers you like to follow, and bookmark websites where you found good information.
- Listen – Some experts publish podcasts or other audio recordings that you can download and listen to when it’s convenient for you. Another way is accept invitations from business experts you follow or are connected with who offer free or low-cost training sessions or workshops via teleclasses or webinar/webcasts.
- Leap – Explore some of the networking events that happen in your area. While a “leap” out of your comfort zone might be intimidating at first, these events are often combined with professional development (such as featured speakers). You never know who you’ll meet and what juicy business-building tidbit they’ll have to share with you!
- Share – Join or form a group of peers who are all committed to continuing education. Meet on a regular basis, with a loose agenda to share any of the learning you’ve done since the last meeting. By pooling together all of your efforts, you’ll create a powerful body of collective knowledge. The brainstorming sessions alone will generate lots of ideas and strategies. No doubt, you’ll take away a golden nugget or two from the meetings.
It’s essential to keep up with the trends of your industry and not get left behind. You’ll not only provide better service to your clients, but you’ll also discover new ways of conducting business that will contribute to the growth and stability of your company.
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