Daily Archives: September 20, 2017

9 alternative ways to boost professional development

Sick of seeing the same regurgitated tips on how you can get ahead at work? – We’ve got just the thing for you.

If you’ve claimed to be an ‘outside the box thinker’ on your CV – then it’s time to set yourself apart for them rest by picking up some of these tips and becoming the most interesting and useful person in the office… 

  1. Find a mentor

There’s a lot to be said for being a trailblazer – but don’t forget, there were people trailblazing long before you came along. Smart people are often quite humble, so you might not find them shouting, blogging or consulting about what they know – often, you’ve got to bring the info out of them yourself.

You’ll only find these people by talking. Chat with the people who’ve been with your company a long time, you’ll pick up some incredible knowledge about the business and ways of working that’ll bolster your professional toolkit. Download Microsoft Office and use Word to take notes and build a list on excel to keep track of the mentors you are connecting with.

  1. Read a book

There’s no end of knowledge out there on subjects that directly impact your role. Truth be told – it doesn’t have to be a book, start picking up professional journals, studies and research papers that are relevant to your industry and prepare to absorb a LOT of priceless info.

Bulking out your knowledge in different areas can be really useful too. If you’re in a marketing role – why not look for psychology info that might inform your decisions? If you’re in sales – brush up on the latest financial info to stay ahead of the curve and understand the right markets to go at.

  1. Learn sign language

There are around 150,000 people in the UK who use British Sign Language – so why not look at picking it up as an additional language and immediately expand the ability and accessibility of your workforce?

Sure, it might not be something you use very often – but in that moment that you’re needed to help support a customer, meeting or business associate, you’re immediately priceless to the business.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is often penned as an entirely selfless act – and while giving your time and energy to a cause with no financial recompense might seem that way, the truth is that you can get a lot from it too.

If you’re part of a medium or large size business, you’ll find there are lots of opportunities to get involved with community projects and initiatives – sometimes even in work time. Getting involved will connect you with great people, inspire conversations and pick you out as someone with good intentions.

  1. Go networking

If you’re thinking to yourself you just don’t have the time for networking – fear not – most of the big networking organisations are a step ahead of you. Whether it’s breakfast, evenings or weekends – you can join up with likeminded (or totally different!) professionals and talk.

There’s usually some format to how a networking event pans out – you might have to make a small presentation to a group or select individuals about you, your business or your products – and in return, they’ll give you similar info about themselves. Whatever’s involved – you’re going to build a professional network that then opens doors to different roles, experiences and knowledge.

  1. Write a blog

Writing a blog can be a brilliant route to exploring your own professional development. It’s creative, so there are no rules – and frankly, even if no one’s reading what you’re writing is going to develop you in ways you might not expect. Its also very easy to setup, you can use platforms such as wordpress.com which is great for getting started.

It’s an often-cited fact that journaling can be an incredible catalyst for creativity – and blogging is really just that – public journaling – and because it’s done in a place anyone can see, you’re likely to get some productive comments and feedback too. Be prepared to be honest and be challenged – but in return you’ll have a lot to think about!

  1. Experiment on yourself

Don’t worry this is a painless experiment! There’s no question that the body and mind are connected – therefore, mixing up your eating, sleeping and exercising habits can have some profound effects on your work life.

They key is taking a measured approach – don’t suddenly start running marathons, being a vegan and sleeping 3 hours a night! Introduce little changes and chart the impact it has on your ability to work. Does exercising before work improve your focus? Perhaps getting an extra hour of sleep means your productivity is up during work hours?

There’s no certain paths or results – do what feels right and see how your professional development follows…

  1. Put yourself with another department

If you’ve got an hour, an afternoon or a day a week that you’d like to invest in development, then look at spending some time with a department that you don’t fully understand or work with often.

Clearly, it’s important to go through the right channels to do so, but if you want a better picture of how the business works as an overall machine – you won’t go far wrong seeing what happens behind the scenes elsewhere.

As an added bonus – you make the company a smaller place when you do this. Your department gets a friendly face that other people can approach – and you make some connections with people elsewhere. From a selfish point of view – it’s always nice to know you’ve got someone on your side should you ever need to take a plan or request over to another part of the building!

  1. Try a foreign language

The internet has made the other side of the world just a few clicks away. If your business has its sights set on expansion – you knowing a different language could put you at the forefront of the company’s plans on how that’s executed.

From a day-to-day point of view too, there’s no harm in being the person who everyone else turns to on the odd instance a non-English speaker wants to interact with the business. There are audiobooks aplenty on learning new languages – and it’s a great way to kill some time in an otherwise tedious commute…