Spokane Journal of Business

Prioritizing pursuit of professional development

Continual learning brings more value to workplace

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I recently had the opportunity to attend an amazing Women’s Business Conference right here in our own gorgeous city of Spokane. It was three intense days filled with inspiring speakers, thought leaders, engaging breakout sessions, and a ton of fantastic content. It was also a great reminder of the importance and value of making professional development a priority.

Today, it’s more important than ever for business owners, managers, and employees to be learning continually. 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 business, it is vital to career advancement. This commitment is one that should be demonstrated by the individual but also highly valued by the organizations for which they work.

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.

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 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.

It’s 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.

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 using 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.

Many people report that the single biggest value of attending a conference or seminar is the opportunity to network with colleagues. 

It’s 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 isn’t 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 will lead to future business opportunities.

With so many options available today, it’s easy to find something tailored to your needs. 

From live, off-site conferences to webinars, there is something out there to fit every industry, time constraint, and budget. Professional development helps maximize team potential, leads to better morale and helps to develop a more engaged workforce.

As many roles become more specialized and as businesses strive to compete, professional development is a key strategy to stay competitive in the ever-changing world of business. It is an investment, but investing in ourselves and our employees through professional development has a remarkable return on investment.

René Johnston-Gingrich, of Spokane, owns Employee Engagement Solutions, a consulting 
and employee-engagement training company.

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