untitled-2Happy New Year!!

Boy I’ll tell you, I was never so glad to see a year end as much as this year. 2008 was an unbelievable year. But I’m glad it’s over. Now is the time to move upward and onward. There are so many opportunities out there awaiting everyone, whether you know it or not. I come into 2009 full of optimism, hope and high expectations.
I want 2009 to be the year of professional development for every woman. I don’t believe in resolutions as much as I do goals. This year, professional development is at the top of the goal list. Contrary to popular belief, professionals development is not limited to just college courses or continuing education classes. You can make a proactive choice to do something the enhance yourself each month.
One of the cheapest and easiest things to do is read more. Go out an get books that will help you excel in networking, your industry or profession, leadership, etc. This month I decided I’m finishing the book Basic Black by Cathie Black of Hearst. While a lot of the information in there is old hat to me, there are some gems in there that I will implement. So far I’m enjoying the book and look forward to finishing it. There are several other titles I am getting myself ready to read. I’ll keep you posted.
Next, don’t take YouTube for granted. Yes crazy, zany people post crazy, zany videos on YouTube. But did you know you can find just about any instructional and/or informational video on there? Go to YouTube. There are tons of videos on there you can actually learn from, and it won’t cost you a dime. You can also find tutorials online by search the web.
Pick a conference. Any conference. Yes, this costs money. But think of it as an investment. Depending on your goal, one or two conferences should allow you to walk away with contacts, information and a new outlook on your career. Choose wisely and make sure to talk to someone who has been to the conferences to make sure it’ll be worth your while. If a conference is too costly, scale back and go to local events. For example, SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) has local chapters and they hold not only monthly meetings, but also special events. Check out your local chapters of the associations you belong to. Make a point to get out there and start mingling.
Learn a new language. OK I know this seems a little far fetched, but answer me this. Why NOT learn a new language? We are, after all, living in a global economy. Regardless of what you title may be, I think everyone can benefit from learning a new language. You can purchase programs like Rosetta Stone, or you can go to a college and attend a continuing education class, or you can get Cd’s and tapes from the library or internet for free. Meet Up has language specific groups that get together and meet in their local areas. If you learn better with other people, this is ideal for you. All it’ll cost you is some gas money and a meal. I am still working on my Spanish. I’m hoping to move onto either Italian or Japanese next. Oh yeah, knowing a second language can possibly increase your earning potential. Marinate on that for a little bit.
Network, network, network!!! You know I had to include the topic of networking in this post. Networking with other people can be an education in itself. Target people who are where you want to eventually be. Get to know them and put in some face time with them (if they’re local). I cannot stress enough that you need to build relationships. Get out there and put in the time, otherwise how do you expect people to want to help you later on when you really need it?
Tune into the news. No not the 6PM “five people were held hostage at the local Dairy Queen” news and definitely not E. Tune into CNN, MSNBC, Fox Business News, CNBC, Bloomberg, any news station that gives you insight into the industries and the world they affect. Pick up the newspapers and read more. Keeping in tune with current events not only educates you on the world, but gives you the arsenal you need in almost any networking situation. Read the blogs related to your industry and/or company. You’ll find those interesting as well.
Invest in certifications or licenses (if applicable to your professional development). My sister decided that although she has a real estate license and degree in Accounting, she now wants to add tax preparation to her skills. She is going to take the H & R Block Tax class. I have a diversity certification, but decided I wanted to add a few more recruiting certifications under my belt. I also want to get a private investigator license. Don’t ask! I believe getting more certifications and upgrading your licenses show that you have a continued commitment to your profession. It definitely can’t hurt.
Get a coach. Yes this can be rather expensive. But a good coach is worth his or her weight in gold.  A coach can guide you and advise you on you career path. I think the right coach is a valuable investment in your career and will give you and advantage over most people.  Think about enlisting the services of a coach and try it out for a few months.  If you don’t notice and significant changes, then you don’t have to continue.  But if you want to get out of stall mode and start making advancements, a coach is the way to go.
Attend free and low cost workshops, seminars and webinars.  These are perfect for gathering information.  Most times, though, they are meant as an outlet for the presenter to sell their products. But, if you go there and listen attentively and take notes, you’ll leave learning some new things.  It may not be everything you wanted to learn, but it’ll put you on the right path.  I take the free events for what they are.  I gather my information and research more after I leave.  I rarely make a purchase unless I feel it’ll help me in the long run.  But remember, they are for informational purposes only so don’t get sucked into making any purchases you’re not comfortable with.  This is not to say all workshops and seminars are like this.  Mine are actually learning sessions.  There are some out there that are specifically for learning.  Pick and choose carefully.
Take a continuing education class. Yes I know, I said this is not the only way and I meant it. But it’s still a good way to get training. I plan on taking a few continuing ed classes through the local college. But also, because I am serious about becoming a better writer, I’ll be taking some course through Media Bistro. If you search the web, I know you’ll be able to find courses that are ideal for you.
What will you do for professional development this year?
Til next time.
Adrienne Graham