This week I’ll be speaking at my third professional development conference in the past month and the fourth of 2017.
I love these events because it’s rare to get so many people who work in the same profession all under one roof at the same time. The opportunities for growth and networking are literally endless, if, and this is a big if, you take the time to make connections and then work to grow those relationships over time.
Let me ask you this – At the last conference or networking event you attended, how many new connections did you walk away with? I ask admission professionals this exact question all the time during my travels and I’m amazed at how many times the response is something like, “I don’t know.” What concerns me even more, though, is how much I’m starting to hear that the other person isn’t sure they’re going to be in higher education long term so what’s the point in expanding their connections in the industry.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 41 years on this earth, it’s that the world is a much smaller place than we think and investing in relationships, regardless of who it is or what field they work in, pays a lifetime of dividends.
My hope is that today’s article will help you understand, or maybe just offer a friendly reminder, about why professional development needs to be an ongoing process (not just something you do during your staff retreat or the one conference you might attend) and what the ROI of making it a priority year-round will be for you.
If you’re an Admissions Counselor or Assistant/Associate Director reading this and your boss doesn’t have the money to send you to the NACAC conference or your state affiliate event, what’s your plan to grow? Technology has given you the Internet (webinars, newsletters), email, a cell phone, and social media. How are you utilizing each one to make and cultivate connections with your peers at other institutions and those in leadership positions you strive to achieve? And what about vendors or other passionate professionals inside and outside of the industry who offer their time and knowledge?
If you’re in a position of leadership as a VP or Director and you’re concerned with retaining and growing your staff, do you have a concrete, detailed plan to do those things? Just having meetings for the sake of having meetings has never been more detrimental. If you don’t have a well-developed professional development plan that includes workshops, mentoring, and both individual and team meetings and functions on an ongoing basis, it’s going to be extremely difficult to retain and attract quality people. And as you work to help your team grow, always remember that your staff are different people with different wants, needs, fears and motivations.
What is the ROI of ongoing professional/personal development?
- It allows you to be more aware of changing trends in an industry
- It ensures that your skills stay relevant and current
- It provides new perspective
- It challenges you to think about alternate approaches to solving problems
- It’s a proven fact that you will be more engaged and committed in your day-to-day
- AND MOST OF ALL, it provides numerous chances to network that will lead to future growth and opportunities
I’ve only scratched the surface today with this topic, but my hope is that this summer you will become committed or even more committed than you already are to personal and professional growth.
If you’re hesitant to step outside your comfort zone a little (or a lot) because of fear of the unknown, rejection, etc., just remember that not doing so poses an even bigger risk to you. Being idle or becoming “comfortable” will cause you to miss out or get passed by. Don’t think for a second that there aren’t other people who would love an opportunity to sit in your chair. Some of them are even making plans on how to do that right now!
How can I help you grow? As always, you can connect with me anytime. I’m ready to listen and help if you’re willing to share. And if it’s not with me, please start a conversation with someone else today. Don’t put it off any longer!