As we close out the first month of a new year, it is not too late to put together a professional development plan. This is one area that has been slipping through the cracks with many individuals and organizations. Small businesses say they don't have the money and large corporations are too busy to send their people away for any period of time. But I think they are looking at training in the wrong light.
Here's the big question: What happens if you do not take the time to train?
The answer is: Your skills get soft, your information is old, and your knowledge becomes less valuable to the organization and your clients.
However, there are several ways to gain the knowledge you need to keep on top of your game. Here are five ways to make it happen:
Assess what skills you need to obtain and the ones you need to keep brushed up on.
If you work for a corporation or non-profit, try to determine if they hold in-house education — either face-to-face or online — that will meet your needs. If they do not, this can be a great opportunity to pitch to your boss about holding a training session onsite, especially if multiple employees need this skill.
If you work for yourself or a very small company, Google the skill you want — for example "Certified Meeting Professional". You will be given a listing of what education is available and how to sign up for it. The education may be face-to-face or online, local or national.
Join an association or two.
Being part of an association offers you three things: education, networking and referrals. If you have never joined an association before, now is the time. The overall goal of associations is to bring like minded professionals together so they can learn from presenters and from one another. But don't over commit. It is better to be very visible in one or two associations rather than to be spread too thin with multiple memberships.
Look to those associations for educational opportunities.
Most associations have both local and national meetings, as well as, online education and communities. Face-to-face meetings extends your opportunity to network. Make time to go to sessions that are important to your development and if you do not see a topic you would like to learn more about, by all means let the association education chair know what you desire. They will probably welcome your thoughts!
Keep connected with your associations via social media channels.
You can keep up-to-date with new information regarding educational opportunities. In addition, by posting comments on the content, it is possible to shape future training.
Use your local library.
Whether you institute all or some of the practices above, it is a good idea to continue to read about your profession. By checking out books from the library and setting aside 10-30 minutes each day to read, you are gaining knowledge about the event meeting services industry.
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