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Some of the best tips for professional development exist strictly within professional and educational realms, and others span areas of the professional’s personal life. Creating goals and plans to achieve them, as well as investing in continuing education, can help a professional as he plots his career path. Working with others, such as professional networks and mentors, is an effective way to obtain advice, feedback, and information about advancements and other professional opportunities. Many professionals benefit from examining their personality and character traits, and making adjustments as necessary. Qualities such as integrity, honesty, and a strong work ethic can help professionals develop solid career paths.
Setting professional development goals, and creating a plan to meet those goals, is an effective way for a professional to visualize what he’s aiming for and keep himself on track. Some people create five- or 10-year plans, and others cover six- or 12-month periods. A professional might set one or two short-term goals, and a few long-term goals. For example, one goal might be to increase sales by a certain percent within a year, and another might be to gain a promotion to a certain position within five years. The exact goals depend on the professional, his occupation, and where he wants to be and what he wants to achieve professionally.
Once a professional determines his goals and time frames, it’s helpful to create a visual aid. Some people hand write these plans, some create charts using markers and poster board, and some create involved plans using computer software. How the person creates the professional development plan isn’t as important as how the plan functions, which is to outline the professional goals and the means to achieve them.
Developing and maintaining professional relationships and networks is also beneficial to professional development. Having such relationships and networks can help him stay aware of what’s going on in his field. A professional’s network can consist of everyone from his immediate boss to his co-workers. He might include supervisors, employees who work under him, or people who work in his field but in different locations. Sometimes, it’s possible to join professional organizations to network and develop relationships with similar professionals.
Staying alert for new opportunities can help with professional development. These might be opportunities for promotion, travel, or even organizing and overseeing a particular project. Any opportunity that can help him reach his professional goals is worth considering. There are several ways to stay alert to new opportunities. These can include paying attention to inner-office communications, considering chances his boss or supervisor offers him, and staying connected with his professional network.
Networks aside, finding an individual mentor can also help a professional as he plans his career path. His mentor should be one whose career mirrors his own goals and ambitions, and someone from whom he feels comfortable asking for and taking advice. Above all, his mentor must be someone he trusts to help guide him in certain career areas.
Continuing education is an effective way to maintain professional development. This is true for people who own their own businesses, self-employed and freelance workers, and those who work traditional 9-to-5 jobs. Enrolling in professional development classes is a way to continue his education, but it also helps him stay up to date with developments within his profession. From retail employees obtaining business management degrees to teachers attending classes to learn about new educational methods, nearly every professional can continue his education in some way. Continuing education can help a professional develop new skills to perform his job more effectively and even become eligible for promotions.
Professionals can work on professional development on personal levels, too. For example, examining one’s personality and character traits can help him better understand and even improve how he interacts with others on the job. By developing and maintaining traits like integrity and honesty, being polite, and fostering a good work ethic, he can help himself develop professionally.