Guest Post by Cynthia Price
One Saturday afternoon recently my dining room table was filled with laptops, mobiles, pens, paper and a strong pot of coffee, along with an assortment of sandwiches and sweets. I was working with a professional group to flesh out strategy and prep for a board meeting in a few weeks.
Image courtesy Cynthia Price, used with permission
While that may not sound like a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, it was. For one thing, everyone involved was smart, creative and focused on the task at hand.
Did I mention that everyone was a woman?
That doesn’t really matter, except our meeting was part of our prep work for a board meeting for NFPW, which originated more than 75 years ago when women journalists weren’t taken seriously.
That didn’t stop the early women journalists – they just formed their own group. Today, NFPW’s membership includes women and men, and there remains a strong emphasis on building the skills of women and helping each other succeed. That’s exactly what happened gathered around the dining room table. Each person brought different skill sets to the table.
I learned from the others, and, I hope, I contributed to the work.
Volunteering with a group – whether it’s one related to your profession or one related to an activity you enjoy – is one way to learn and grow your skills. Often you can use these skills in other settings and succeed at a new assignment or in a new role.
Too often, I hear individuals complain that they don’t have access to knowledge they need to grow in their job or move on to another one. While many companies do provide their employees with opportunities to learn, grow and succeed, I firmly believe that each of us is responsible for our own learning that leads to growth and success.
In addition to volunteering with an organization, here are a few other ways to learn:
1. Sign up for webinars.
Many companies offer free webinars – and sometimes a dose of selling – to anyone who provides an email address. I’ve participated in several, and have left with take-aways that I can use in my job and for my growth. Webinars also expose you to influencers.
Finally, most people who offer a free webinar genuinely want to share their knowledge with you. I’ve been listening to webinars by Michael Hyatt. I also listened to one by Dorie Clark and now I follow her via social media sites. I participated in one by Michael Smart and now pay to be a member of his Inner Circle.
Once you know more about the person, you can decide for yourself whether you want to pay for additional services.
2. Attend a conference or workshop.
If your company pays, that’s great. If not, you are worth the investment. I’m writing a mystery novel and will attend a mystery writer’s conference later this year. It’s worth the investment to hear how others have succeeded (and what they learned from failure). I’ll also hear from agents and publishers.
It’s worth it.
I’m not referring to collecting business cards and doing nothing with them. I’m talking about finding people in your field and asking if they would be available for an informational meeting over coffee. Do some research ahead of time so you are knowledgeable about the person and their profession. Come prepared with the questions you want answered.
Afterward, send a thank you, comment on their blog or write a tweet encouraging others to view their website or social media site.
You can do it on a tablet or with a printed book or magazine. The key is to identify resources that can help you learn, grow and succeed. I almost always have four or five books that I want to read related to my profession or self-management. I also read the magazines that my professional groups publish, and I read magazines such as Success and Fast Company for inspiration and to learn.
Are you ready to learn, grow and succeed?
Cynthia Price has been telling stories her whole life – first as a newspaper reporter and later for companies through media and public relations and strategic communications. She writes a blog called Cynthia’s Communique about navigating the media, careers and life. She is also an avid explorer of the world and recently completed a quest to visit all 50 states. You can find her @PriceCynthia.
It is easy to become overwhelmed Cherie. I would encourage you to create a plan to follow each year. You can decide on a set number of webinars to watch, conferences/workshops to attend and individuals to follow. Then reassess each quarter. If something isn’t working, tweak it. I don’t always follow my plan exactly, but it definitely keeps me focused and prevents me from jumping at every shiny new thing.
You make a great point, Cheryl, about listening and observing. Both are skills that are often underused. Thank you for taking time to comment.
Cynthia thank you for reminding me about the things I need to be doing in terms of professional development, but that often fall by the wayside. I too have gotten a lot out of volunteering and am also a member of NFPW and find that interaction with the smart creative women you mention priceless, especially as an independent practitioner. I need to participate in more webinars and workshops to keep current, but so many are available I become overwhelmed. I liked your suggestions regarding some of the gurus you follow, please pass on any others you find helpful. Thank you, you are inspiring!!
Thank you for sharing this great advice! It was spot-on. And I agree ”” if you’re complaining that you don’t have access to the tools and resources necessary for professional growth, you’re not looking hard enough. I work with a very talented group of people, all experts in their fields. Not a single day goes by that I don’t learn something from simply showing up at work and listening to or observing my colleagues. In addition to the suggestions outlined above, I would add that you need to be open to feedback/coaching ”” willing to listen to what others have to say and use that information to achieve your full potential.
Great advice. I also enjoy her blog Cynthia’s Communique. .
Sunni and Louise,
Thanks for the great feedback. You inspire me to keep learning and growing!
Cynthia’s tips always invigorate me, though I am “working” as a volunteer now. I wish coaches like her had been around when I was starting my career.
Louise, I love Cynthia’s advice too. She is awesome!
Great advice in this post! Getting involved and seeking opportunities, including webinars and networking events are so important to professional and personal development. Wonderful information and suggestions.