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Make Your Own Professional Development Your #1 Priority

Confucius put it so eloquently all those years ago; “What the superior man seeks is in himself, what the small man seeks is in others”. It’s an old adage that couldn’t be more apt these days, as professional development becomes essential in the most competitive workforce we’ve ever seen.

Investing in continuous learning is paramount for all breeds of career professional these days – whether in corporate or small business. Leadership communication skills that help managers to influence and engage audiences are at the top of the wishlist for many, and no wonder. The benefits of communication and leadership training are many:

  • Competitive edge. Extra skills and a personal strategy for ongoing learning can be just the trick when edging out a colleague for a promotion, and showing your boss that you’re committed to improving your skills.
  • New opportunities. Elevated skills can open up new opportunities across other projects and departments, as well as in your own, enabling greater choice, further empowerment and more skills for the resume.
  • Measurable results: Supporting your teams with strong, confident leadership will bring out the best in them (and yourself!) to exceed KPIs and thrive across all projects.

This all sounds great, but how do busy business leaders find the time to self-improve? What modes of training are available and which ones are the best?

Types of learning

Self-development has become more accessible online in recent years, with technology making it easier to study and self-educate through elearning. As a result, a 2017 Australian Market Research Report cites that the online learning and self-development industry is now estimated at $3.3 billion.

But the traditional conferences and 1, 2 or even 5 day courses still have their place in the mix. While it can be difficult to find the time to step away from your desk, busy professionals find that they will retain more if they are free from any office distractions, and there are significant networking benefits too.

So how do you decide which kind of training will provide the best outcome for you? What should you consider, what should you avoid, and how can you effectively narrow your options?

With time at a premium, you can’t afford to make a mistake, nor can you afford time to browse countless options. So we’ve decided to make it easy for you. Here are some of our top tips for choosing between types of training available. Enjoy.

1. Keep it localised

Offshore courses often sound amazing, and they can offer the chance to travel to a place where BAU is not on your mind. But they don’t always adapt to your local environment, thus rendering them largely irrelevant for your purpose. For instance, the legislation and customs of doing business in one country can be vastly different to the next. Our advice is to keep to an Australian-based learning program that can provide great local support and relevant content.

2. Keep it focused

Don’t try to be all things at once. Before you think about potential courses, take a minute to reflect on your desired outcome from the program, and any area that you want to improve.

A number of training providers will offer a range of specialities including pitching for new business, improving presentation and public speaking skills, or learning how to increase your influence in the workplace. If you’re simply wanting to hone your leadership and communication skills, seek courses and workshops that specialise in that, and that alone. Otherwise, you run the risks of the content being too broad and therefore quite basic, or of going into overwhelm because you’re trying to cram too much information into one, single session.

3. Vet your vendors

Before you book a course, be sure to do some research into the credibility of the provider. Look for evidence of success such as testimonials and real case studies and take a look at some examples of the content on offer. In most cases, credible sources will have either a free trial period so you can sample their course, or some type of free learning centre so you can sample their fare before you take the whole meal. Who are the facilitators and coaches, what credibility and information is available on them? Can you Google them and validate their expertise, or check out their recommendations on LinkedIn?

4. Consider online vs offline training

If you’re based in a capital city, chances are there are events being rolled out any time and day of the week. This makes offsite, offline learning attractive – especially if you thrive in a learning sphere that is more intimate, or if you lack discipline and motivation to progress your online learning yourself. It also introduces you to a whole new network of people – both trainers and participants, which can be both inspiring and motivating, not to mention the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences.

Online training is becoming more and more popular as it offers flexibility in a work-at-your-own pace type of setting. Elearning also provides the ability to tap into a resource library any time you need it. High-quality online learning programs are highly engaging and most reputable sources use video as an integral part of their learning curriculum.

If you’re looking to make professional development a key part of your working life, there are also programs that combine the best of the offline and the online experience and will support you over longer periods – such as attending a local event, followed by a 12-month membership to an online training library. There is no right or wrong answer here, it all comes down to finding the right course, for you.

If you’re searching for a training course that will help you to build your influence, enhance your brand and climb the corporate ladder, then our Mastering Communication Training Program is for you. Register today to give your professional development a kickstart.

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional development with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

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