Your work from home (WFH) commute may currently consist of walking from the bedroom to the coffee maker to the kitchen table, but there’s no reason to let your professional development flatline.
As the world rallies around remote work and WFH trends, the opportunities to network, teach, learn and grow your skill set have skyrocketed. We have more virtual conferences and trainings, online courses, digital products, collaboration platforms and membership communities than ever before, and that trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Professional Development Matters
Humans have a natural desire to learn new things. When it comes to work, people in a wide variety of industries and businesses participate in professional development to learn and apply new knowledge and skills that will improve their job performance.
Maybe this development is driven by a desire for promotion, or maybe it’s driven by a need for accomplishment or confidence. Whatever drives professional development, your own has probably changed a bit in the past year. As WFH became the norm, we had to collectively find ways to virtually gather, collaborate and level-up professionally.
Whether you work from home full-time or are part of the growing hybrid movement that combines coworking, flexible office space, meetings at your company’s headquarters and WFH, you can take advantage of valuable growth and professional development opportunities.
Here are three ways to ensure that your professional development doesn’t flatline while you WFH.
Repurpose Platforms You Already Use
For marketing or social media education, start with platforms that you already use. For example, apps including SEM Rush, Adobe, Zoom and social media scheduling tool Meet Edgar offer regular webinars to their users. Some are paid, but many are free and open to anyone.
Webinars give brands the opportunity to teach their users pro tips and best practices and help them understand why the product is valuable in the first place. Note: In your platform preferences, make sure to opt-in to be notified about upcoming events, webinars, and downloadable resources.
Continuing (Virtual) Education
Photo credit: Coursera.org
Some of the benefits of virtual education include:
- There’s usually no pre-qualification necessary
- You get self-paced, online instruction while you WFH
- Many of the courses are free and the majority are priced at less than $200
- If the courses can’t be used towards continuing education credits, they may offer a certificate of completion, which you can use to impress your employer
The real value of these online courses is the practical knowledge of a subject gained and the application of what you’ve learned to your life and profession.
Pro tip: Check your local organizations for professional development resources. For instance, the Small Business Administration (SBA) generally offers programs to help startups and entrepreneurs.
Speaking in Public
Being comfortable speaking in front of people and having the skills to deliver a solid presentation, either virtually or in-person, whether in a one-to-one performance review, or to a group of hundreds or thousands, is an incredibly valuable professional development strategy. It’s tough to be a leader if you can’t share your ideas with your team, colleagues and community.
Here are some of our favorite organizations, platforms and tools to improve your public speaking chops.
Toastmasters: Toastmasters has been around since the 1920s and the organization is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Their focus is to enable members to improve communication skills in a safe, encouraging, supportive environment. Toastmasters has countless success stories, spanning decades, about how the Toastmaster system can impact a person both personally and professionally.
Many Toastmasters clubs had an online format prior to Covid, so they have a robust community and offerings. Some clubs may offer a combination of virtual and in-person meetings once it’s safe to do so.
Eventbrite: Event listing site Eventbrite is a treasure chest of professional development, including plenty of virtual offerings. Search the platforms for local (and otherwise) events on pitching, sales, public speaking, presenting and much more.
Bring On the Drama: If you’re feeling bold (or incredibly WFH bored), try a virtual acting class. Since location is no longer an issue, you can take acting class anywhere in the world. New York City? No problem. Los Angeles? Tons of them. Paris? Oui oui. Theatre classes can help you become more comfortable speaking to large audiences and can improve your memorization skills. Wins all around.
Regardless of which professional development skills you’d like to acquire or grow, there’s something for you. There’s absolutely no reason to let your career and skills flatline while we wait out our current WFH reality. Get creative and get to work.
If you’re currently working from home and are looking for alternate workspace solutions where you can develop your professional skills and work productively within a safe community of like-minded professionals, check out a Pacific Workplaces location near you.