I have always valued education and professional development. I wouldn’t have completed three degrees if I didn’t! Or have books exploding from every shelf in my house!
As a small business owner I find professional development more important than ever. I still want my career to advance and for this to happen, I need to know what is happening in my industry and in the broader environment in which I work. My clients need to feel confident that I am giving current information and I need to confident that my knowledge gives me a competitive edge when I’m quoting and pitching for new business.
Consequently I have always believed investing in myself is important. Particularly when it comes to education and professional development. When I finished high school I invested in my first uni experience. Not that I would have called it that back then!
Sure I had some financial support from the Bank of Mum and Dad (I’m ever grateful they also valued education), but mostly I paid my own way. Which meant I felt no guilt when I dropped out two and half years into that four year Bachelor of Economics / Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) degree to go travelling for a year. Dad was less than impressed. For the next seven years he kept reminding me I had ten years to complete that Bachelor of Economics. Can’t tell you how grateful I was when that ten years passed!
Once I finished uni (the second time – complete with graduation ceremony!) and started working, I continued spending money on my education. Sure, most of the courses I did were hobby based, but I was still learning.
A few years into my professional life I joined my first industry association, and I’ve been a member of at least one professional or industry association – always paying my own registration fees – ever since. Regardless of whether I was an employee or self-employed.
Which is why, when I was at a conference earlier this year and a delegate asked a very senior speaker if she was a member of the International Association of Business Communicators after she had sung it’s praises, and she said no I don’t know if my employer would pay, I was horrified.
I was equally appalled when another person I met also said she hadn’t joined any professional association because her employer wouldn’t pay. What’s with this sense of entitlement people?? Why won’t you back yourself with your professional development? It’s an investment in your career.
If you aren’t prepared to invest in your own professional development then why should someone else? And yes, I say professional development, because a good industry association should be ensuring that the value they provide gives you the chance to further your career.
This value should include:
- an opportunity to network with your peers and with industry leaders
- providing you with learning opportunities from your industry’s experts – either through educational events or online resources or a mentoring program or some other way
- helping you stay informed about emerging trends and best practices in your industry
- encouraging you to become part of a community.
I’m currently a member of two industry associations – Professional Speakers Australia and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). I’m also on the Board of the Queensland Chapter of the IABC, as I’ve decided it’s time to start giving back to an industry that has given me so much.
So if you aren’t a member of your industry professional association, then check it out. Talk to other members. Go to a couple of events. Find out who else is a member and what benefits they offer. Pay to join if it looks good – don’t expect your employer too. And while yes, your employer will benefit from your membership, believe me when I tell you that YOU will benefit far more. Far FAR more.
And if you are a business communicator, then consider checking out the IABC. As a current bonus, we are offering a discount if you join or renew in October 2015. Find out more!
Do you also value professional development? Are you a member of your industry association? Do you pay or does your employer? Where are you a member and what’s it like??
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