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How to Advance Your Professional Development

What is it that sets successful people apart from those who end up sitting in the same place their entire lives? Why does a certain employee get the promotion, and not the others? More often than not, it’s because they chose to spend their spare time in a way that most people don’t – they focused on their professional development.

If you want to climb to the top of your company’s ladder or eventually start your own business, you’ll be glad to know that you already have all the tools you need. Professional development is as simple as applying yourself in the right areas, depending on where you have identified room for improvement.

Perhaps you’re an aspiring salesperson, but your social skills need refinement. Maybe it’s your grasp of English that needs working on before you can write that book. Your eyes might be set on that promotion, but you aren’t qualified for the job. Either way, what really matters is how you plan to tackle the problem and achieve your goals.

Easier said than done, right? Not if you know what steps to take to make it happen. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what you can do to advance your professional development and continue moving forward.

Map Your Objectives

It’s much easier to figure out how to do something if you know what to do in the first place. That’s not easy to remember with the endless number of tasks that are always lying on your plate. This is why your first step should be to map your objectives. Start by listing what you’ve already achieved.

Then, write a list detailing what you want to achieve in the next year. Do you want to land an upcoming promotion? Do you want to obtain a certain qualification? Do you want to learn 200 new words? Do you want to land a certain number of sales? From here, detail your goals.

Determine how long you should spend working on each goal, which ones are the easiest to achieve and most importantly, the specific steps required to achieve each goal. As you tackle these goals in the future, be sure to keep track of them. This is a great way to stay motivated and see how much you’ve progressed.

Don’t Forget About Your Losses

The human brain is an expert at erasing mistakes and making sure that you only remember how great you were at doing something. This is a mistake, as you usually learn more from your losses than from your wins. So just as you record your successes, be sure to keep track of when things didn’t go the way you planned.

This will help you problem-solve for the future and make better decisions moving forward. In retrospect, you might find that those losses were not something to feel bad about, but rather key events that led to your success. Maintaining this mindset will help you recover faster and learn more from every mistake you make along the way.

Identify and Improve

Another benefit of keeping track of your losses is that they’ll bring to light the areas where you need to improve your skills. Once you’ve identified these areas, you can take the necessary steps to fill the gaps and move on to the next area of improvement. This may seem like an exhausting endeavor, but it’s an absolute must if you want to be successful.

So, this begs the question: what do you do to fill those gaps? Well, depending on what they are, there’s a lot you can do, even if you’ve already graduated from university and taken every training program your job offers. The internet is a great place to start, offering a wealth of educational resources that you can use to further your knowledge and skills.

For example, you can search for and compare a variety of professional training courses on findcourses.com. This includes business and management, accounting, information technology, project management, leadership, sales and many more career-oriented subjects. The date, length and price of the courses are all listed, so it’s easy to see what they entail. Many of the classes on findcourses.com can be taken online, allowing you to further your knowledge and obtain valuable certifications from home. There are a number of other online learning resources on there that you can make use of depending on your career path.

It’s also a good idea to join forums or communities of like-minded professionals. For instance, Reddit has a variety of communities for app and web developers where you can discuss programming languages and ask for advice on any relevant questions you have about the topic.

Social sites can prove to be extremely valuable in helping you find new contacts. For instance, you can use LinkedIn to get in touch with high-ranking professionals and companies that you want to work with. You can use social media to find new clients and keep in touch with your current clients, as well as to network with industry experts.

A simple check-in to your favorite blogs or news websites that are related to your career can help you identify new trends and opportunities. Keeping up with what’s happening in your industry is key to advancing your career.  Even if all you gain are a few interesting facts, there’s no telling how useful they’ll be in the future.

Get Out There

While there are many benefits to online networking, getting out there and attending conferences, professional events and seminars can prove to be even more valuable in helping you further your knowledge and find new networking opportunities. Forums, workshops and seminars are the perfect place to gain direct access to experts in your field.

Learn to Talk

Of course, any step forward in your career requires a conversation with management. To make this as conducive to your success as possible, you need to abandon the notion that your employer is intimidating or unapproachable. If you’ve come this far, you’re clearly a valuable member of the company and you deserve to be recognized.

Work on creating and maintaining an open line of communication with the higher-ups. They’re key to your success and if you’re fit for the task, they’ll be more than happy to help you get where you want to go. Ask about continued education opportunities and upcoming projects.

Being curious about your work and how you can propel yourself forward makes you an engaged employee. As an added bonus, asking questions helps you build stronger relationships with people in your company, which will inevitably come in useful when you need help in the future.

Learn to Listen

The more you know about what’s happening in your company and your industry, the wiser your decisions will be moving forward. Listen to why your team is struggling. Listen to how your company is expected to perform in the next quarter. When you know about the problems your company is facing, you’ll be able to provide value by offering solutions.

Lastly, one should never forget the importance of their own well being. Getting caught up in your professional development might lead you to forget about keeping yourself in check. Take the time to work on your social life, finances, physical well being and mental well being when you can, because no amount of hard work and dedication will result in your success if these elements aren’t in check.

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