Being an entrepreneur can be exhilarating.  The thrill of the sale. The flexibility to (on occasion) go get pedicure on a random Tuesday afternoon.  It can also be isolating.  Much of the same can be said for climbing the corporate ladder.  As entrepreneurs, business owners, and businesswomen, we crave connection.  We benefit greatly from building and maintaining relationships with other women who “get it”.  

Today it’s more important than ever for business owners, managers and employees to be continually learning. To keep pace with the rapidly changing workplace and help organizations prosper and grow, we all need to stay on top of new developments in our respective fields.  The pursuit of professional development opportunities not only demonstrates a commitment to our profession and/or business, it is vital to career advancement. 

There are many rewards for participating in professional development opportunities.  These are rewards that are mutually beneficial for both the individual (business owner or employee) as well as the organization.

Inspiration–Attending an event or conference or even just a great seminar can really break you out of a rut.  Anytime we learn something new it inspires us to shake things up, to make the changes or we need to make and take the actions we need to take. We return ready to dive into work with renewed vigor and that enthusiasm can be contagious.

Getting the Heck out of Dodge—It is crucial to get out of our immediate surroundings and see what is going on in the rest of the world.  This can be hard to do.  As business owners and managers, we have a hard time giving up being in immediate control, even if it is just for a few days.  A change of scenery can inspire creativity and strategic thinking that we often can’t access when we are in the middle of our day to day.  It is essential to step outside our comfort zone and see and experience different approaches, strategies, and perspectives.

Staying Current in Your Industry–We owe it to ourselves and to our customers or clients to be at the top of our game.  The only way to do this is to be sure we are staying current and informed regarding the latest and greatest in our industry.  Whether it is information on utilizing Instagram as a marketing tool or the hottest technology available in our industry, this knowledge will keep us from falling behind the curve.  This helps us avoid having a competitor bring something to your attention that we should have already known about.

Networking–Many people report that the single biggest value of attending a conference, seminar or the regular meetings of a professional organization is the opportunity to network with colleagues. It is great to get out in your community and network but we tend to underestimate the value of making connections with people outside of our area.  The advantage is not always immediately obvious but we may connect with people in similar businesses that have experienced situations that we can learn from, get or give useful advice, or establish relationships with people that may develop into business opportunities and/or even lasting, significant friendships. Happily, that has been my experience.  

Making the time for professional development can be difficult, but investing in ourselves to build relationships through professional development has a remarkable return on investment. And on a given day, just might save your sanity.  

Rene Johnston
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