Five Reasons to Make Professional Development a Priority

We often counsel clients on the value of interacting with people who shape their reputations and can help them achieve their business goals. It’s no different for communications professionals. We have a responsibility to keep learning and to surround ourselves with talented people who challenge and push us. Why?

1.      Make sure you don’t get stale. The communications industry has changed so much in the past five years, and we can’t expect to absorb knowledge by sitting at our desks. Get out and mingle! Attend a Ragan seminar. Join PRSA. Go to a conference. Get active in an association, board or nonprofit.

2.      Clients count on us to be smart. We’re in the client service business. Pick up a book. Ask questions of your peers. Scan some magazines. Eat your lunch over a webinar. Read insightful blogs and challenge your assumptions. (Try Jeff Bullas, Jay Baer, Shel Holtz, Chris Brogan or Katie Paine.) When we take the time to gather best practices and pass them along, everyone wins.

3.      It’s fun to learn. Take a class that will complement your work. Invite friends or colleagues to enroll with you. Find a seminar that’s outside of the realm of what you do every day. One of the most enjoyable events I’ve attended was the Midwest Grape & Wine Conference. I was there as a guest – on vacation. Over three days, I made professional connections, made sense of my husband’s profession and made lifelong friends.

4.      There’s money in it. In your current job or elsewhere, ongoing learners are more marketable and command higher salaries. A Korn/Ferry study found that APRs (professionals who earn the designation “accredited in public relations”) earn an average of 20 percent more. Earning power goes up by 35 percent or more with an MBA. Coincidence?

5.      Growth can be personal. The majority of us will spend almost a third of our adult lives in the workplace. Our colleagues in the HR field know that career development is intertwined with employee satisfaction. When you commit to professional development, personal satisfaction usually follows. Dare I say that learning might make us happier?

So what’s the best professional development move you’ve made? And what was the pay off?