7 Ways to Invest in Yourself and Grow Professionally
It was time for another performance review with my boss. I was told that I was doing a great job, and had taken great initiative with projects throughout the year, which made me feel good. But when I asked, “What’s next for me and how can I advance?” , the answer was not what I wanted to hear. My boss at the time, simply said: “You’ll have more responsibilities and we’ll go from there”. In my mind, I thought … “Where’s my promotion?”
Then, I realized I was placing my future and potential in the hands of someone else, and that’s not okay. Why was I waiting for someone else to promote me? It was time for me to promote and invest in myself. I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way. While you’re working for someone else, it’s easy to lose sight of your own dreams and goals. But in reality - you are in charge of your own life and the ultimate creator of your success story. The outcome of your life - is not up to your boss, your family, or friends - it’s up to you!
I’m the first to say, that working full time, juggling motherhood, a side hustle, and everything in between is HARD. I thought I did not have another minute to cater to anything else. But with sacrifice comes reward. So I’ll trade binge-watching the latest Netflix shows or late night scrolling through Instagram for a few extra hours per week, doing something that my future self will thank me for.
Earlier this year, I made a list of ways I could grow professionally because success is my end goal. Here are my tips to develop professionally and INVEST in yourself:
1. Get Educated - With a College Degree, Certification, or Online Courses
Why do you need a college education? Because that piece of paper is a requirement for most jobs - and demonstrates your knowledge. However, there are many ways to become educated and impress potential employers, business partners, investors, etc. For a small fee or completely free you can gain incredible knowledge. Check out websites such as Slideshare, Coursera, FutureLearn, Udemy, or Lynda.com to start your online training.
2. Read Regularly
Have you ever heard the saying, “Knowledge is Power”? That’s because once you learn something, better yet master it, no one can take that knowledge away from you. Everyday aim to read something new that challenges you, broadens your horizons and teaches you something valuable that you didn’t know before. Some good reads for business professionals are Black Enterprise and Entrepreneur.
We are all super busy – so reading every day might not be a priority. But take just 15 minutes a day to read something and watch your vision grow. Keep a hard copy in your bag or use the Kindle app for on the go reading. Since I have a kindergartener, who is now learning to read, I make it a habit to regularly go the library and pick up books for me and him. The library is a great resource for free books. To make reading more fun for you - start a book club with your girlfriends or other like-minded professionals.
3. Volunteer or Intern to Gain Additional Experience
By becoming a volunteer or intern - you can gain additional experience outside of your typical job. In these roles, you can establish yourself as an expert in that field. Not to mention – you can do this for a small business that needs the help but doesn’t have the resources to hire a full-time employee. Not only will it feel great giving back, but you’ll make new connections. Check out websites such as, VolunteerMatch, Internships.com, Taproot, or even directly contacting businesses you are interested in working for.
4. Join Professional Organizations
There is definitely strength in numbers. When you join a professional organization in your industry the benefits can outweigh the costs. I say this because in an organization you’ll be surrounded by other professionals just like you. You’ll get resources, networking opportunities, and have a support system as you navigate through your career. A membership can be pricey. So, check if your company will pay for it. You’ll have to justify how the membership can add value to your team though. Also, ask about discounts for students and large groups, you could save up to 50% off annual fees.
5. Attend Professional Conferences
Your network determines your net worth. If you want to grow professionally - you have to be social and get out there. One way to do this is by attending a few professional conferences or events each year. And don’t just attend - have a plan so that you get the most out of it. Check out the agenda and map out which sessions will help you reach your goals. Be prepared to showcase your skills – and be opened to learn something new.
A great place to find new conferences to attend is through your professional organizations and Eventbrite.
6. Find Mentors Inside and Outside Your Industry
Finding a mentor is one of the best things you can do for your career. My first mentorship was during college - and fortunately, we are still close today. I know that she is a key factor in me landing my first job right after school. As a professional - it’s important to know the right people. A mentor can open doors for you that might have taken years on your own. Mentors can seriously give you great advice that either helps you to not make a horrible mistake or guides to make the best choices for your career. It’s a good idea to seek mentors inside and outside your industry, so you’ll learn from experienced peers with different backgrounds.
And remember, a mentorship is a two-way street. Find ways to offer your mentor something in return for their effort and time, such as a recommendation, new ideas, support, or anything that will foster a lasting relationship.
7. Develop a Professional Online Brand
Have you googled yourself lately? Well, you should. Your online presence says a lot about you - so make sure that yours is representing you in the best light. Creating an online brand is critical. Start with a LinkedIn page to network online with other professionals. Then create a personal website to showcase your portfolio of work. I recommend Squarespace because it’s user-friendly and doesn’t require HTML or website design experience.
So what’s your plan for 2018? TO FlOURISH by investing in yourself with these strategies.
Ladies, what tips would you recommend for professional development and investing in yourself? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
With love always,