How Much Do You Spend on Professional Development?

professionaldevelopmentThere are likely professional development pieces you must keep up with for your business. Items like certifications, licenses, and other must haves. But what about the secondary training you need to learn to keep your business relevant in today’s changing marketplace? Are you keeping up? Can you afford to? What do you need to know? Here are the top skills most businesses need today and an inexpensive suggestion on how to keep with these secondary professional development requirements.

Regardless of the business that you’re in, there are new skills that we all must be learning. Even if your business is large enough and your budget robust enough that you can afford to pay others to do it, having a cursory knowledge of these new skills is important.

Marketing is no longer about a hard sell or a witty slogan. Word of mouth and referrals power strong brands. Content marketing, social media, and other forms of digital marketing need to be on your agenda. You want to create content that causes people to know, like, and trust you.

Using Graphics in Marketing
The reason this topic gets its own section is because images are becoming incredibly important in digital marketing but they’re no longer relegated to the design team. Everyone is expected to be able to use tools like Canva or Adobe Spark to create image quotes and memes for social media.

If you don’t have an analyst on board, you might want to get one if your budget allows. If not, you probably need to study up on the basics of Google analytics. You can read Google’s resources on the topics but often analytics is something most easily learned by watching and following along.

Personal Branding
Branding is about more than your business these days. It’s important to develop a personal brand and thankfully with social media, that’s not hard to do. It costs nothing but time. In addition to building a following by investing time in your personal brand, allowing people to get to know you builds the know, like, and trust people crave when doing business with companies these days. If you have no idea what a personal brand is, it’s time for you to get some help in developing yours.

Since search optimization is such a broad topic, it should be addressed outside of analytics. Even if you hire a search optimization guru, it’s important you know something about it. After all, if you care about your personal brand (and you should, remember?) you’ll be doing your own posting and should be cognizant of what keywords can help position you where you need to be.

Cyber Security or Active Shooting Situations
No one wants to learn these skills and knowledge but sadly, today it is a lot more prevalent a topic than we would’ve ever expected. While combat training isn’t essential, knowing how to minimize issues, what to look for, and how to react in an active shooter situation may help save you and your staff from a terrible situation. Classes on this topic range from information on conceal and carry to active shooter drills.

Cyber security is another concern today as cybercrime can decimate your business and your reputation. It’s no longer enough to merely update your anti-virus software. There’s a lot of cybercrime going on out there and it’s all just stealing identities. Ransomware holds your data hostage and extorts money from you to get it returned. Cybercrime costs 100-billion dollars a year.

In either situation, you can’t assume your location or industry won’t be hit.

Chamber NOTE:  The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank is hosting a Cyber Security Event on Wednesday, April 26th - FREE:  Click here for details.

These basic secondary skills are critical to business and while you can hire them out, if your do, you’re at the mercy of someone else. But at the same time, self-education takes hours to find trusted sources and many of them cost several hundred dollars. Plus, of course, you need to factor in the time it takes to digest the information they’re presenting online.
Or you could join the chamber.

Training on these secondary skills is often offered at your chamber of commerce and/or your local small business development organization. If you’re looking for economical training, the chamber is the first place to go. Even if they don’t offer a learning session on the exact topic of interest, they can often match you up with another member or organization to help you increase your knowledge for very little economic investment. Find out what’s on the chamber agenda this month.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

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Friday, May 5, 2017
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