When it comes to professional development, we often focus on big, sometimes costly, endeavors like conferences or classes. And don’t get me wrong, classes and events are amazing ways to grow our skills and our networks. At the same time, are we overlooking the small things we can do on a regular basis to advance our careers?
Over on the YNPN-Triangle, NC blog, Molly Coyle outlines some of the things she did last month as part of her professional development. While she did take classes related to her career, she focused on small acts that she felt were integrated into her life. Here are a few that stood out:
I had a phone call with a mentor that led to actionable follow-up steps.
I drank coffee with a friend (who is one position senior to me) to learn about the skills needed to succeed in such a position.
I read one nonprofit-related article every. Single. Day.
I found a pro-bono opportunity to practice my grant-writing skills.
I sent a birthday email to a former supervisor — and got back a wonderful message full of advice on my career!
The other trend I notice is that many of these activities are steps in an ongoing process. I encourage you to embrace this approach and think about your professional development plan as a series of building interactions rather than a bunch of one-off activities. Find something to follow up on: schedule another meeting, ask for a book recommendation, or click the link to learn more about a related topic. Stay curious, stay engaged, stay flexible.
If you’re wondering what skills you should focus on or how to get started, here are a few questions to explore.