Looking to build your skills and expertise outside of work? Here are six ways to do that:
1. Get on LinkedIn
I can’t say enough about LinkedIn. My colleagues, friends, and clients can vouch for this – no doubt! Many professionals are coming to have a better understanding of the platform and how it can benefit them. But most don’t recognize what a powerful skill and knowledge building tool it can be.
By following influencers, channels, and individuals as well as engaging themselves in groups, a member can keep current in their industry and sharp on business in general. Discussions with those from similar and dissimilar backgrounds can broaden your horizon and give you a different perspective.
Overall, by utilizing these features you can grow your career and enhance your professional life, securing your current role, and paving a path for your career goals!
2. Go to GCFLearnFree.org
This is my second favorite positive rant. GCFLearnFree.org contains a wealth of tutorials about Microsoft Office Products, Academics, Careers, Work in general – heck, even Life in general!
I often consult it when I am sure there is something easier I can do in Outlook, Word, or Excel. Sometimes I don’t have a clue and am always able to find the answer. If what you need isn’t here, it is surely free somewhere on the Web. Consider setting up a Google Alert for topics of interest.
3. Join professional groups
Sometimes you need to see like-minded people in a different venue and in person. Online groups are fine, but nothing can replace the impact of a smiling face, warm handshake, or appreciative nod. Find or create a group near you. Meetup is becoming a great way to create and manage in-person groups.
Chamber of Commerce or Industry groups in your area are likely to be accessible to you and can be a good way to learn and build your network. Networks can help you by allowing you to feel connected, but can also help ensure you find out about opportunities in a timely way.
Yes, you can learn a lot through volunteering for charity or civic groups. Big Brothers Big Sisters, Rotary, your local hospital, or church can all be great places to learn and grow. Sometimes, you learn how well-off you are. Sometimes you find that you have the best social media skills (even if you consider yourself technologically challenged). Before you know it, you might be improving a skill you never knew you needed and that will benefit others as well as yourself.
5. Get additional education
You can take a class or go back to school to pursue a degree or certification. There are plenty of online options for formal training, but don’t forget about the brick and mortar facilities as well.
Back when I was in college, everyone was very excited about the ability to find information via the Internet. One research instructor insisted we go to the library as a group on a regular basis to do our research using the good ol’ Dewey Decimal System. Why? Incidental learning, he explained.
I often use this approach with clients stymied by their job search or those who lack clear career direction: Pick up an old fashioned, honest-to-goodness newspaper and review all the classifieds. Circle any that sound interesting and then think about whether or not it makes sense to apply or to think about pursuing some skill or certification to qualify for this type of position. Voila! A whole host of jobs are out there that they never would have known about.
6. Schedule downtime
You may miss learning opportunities or at least insights if you don’t set aside time to process your work day. Make sure you allow enough time to think about what you did and how you did it. What did you learn? Who did you help? What did you accomplish? What could you have done better? What did you enjoy? What didn’t you like?
Think about these things – keep a work journal to capture even further opportunities to learn.
My hope is that you approach your job and profession in a way that makes you happy and proud. If you do this, your day will fly by, and chances are you will sleep well.
About the author
Mary Sherwood Sevinsky is master’s-prepared and has over 20 years of experience in career assessment, counseling, and assisting transitioning workers such as those needing to make a career change, or who are moving, injured or disabled. Mary also has a great deal of experience with high level professionals and mature workers. Areas of expertise include: Career Assessment and Assistance, Resume Development, LinkedIn Profiles, Bio’s, Cover Letters, and Interview Preparation. Read more at www.life-works.info.
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