As a young public relations professional, my time is frequently spent somewhere between managing my client workload and striving to maintain a successful work-life balance. However, when I do happen to have a moment of free time, I like to make sure I am utilizing the opportunities around me to advance my professional growth and enhance my knowledge of the public relations industry. While I am extremely thankful to work with smart and talented colleagues at a successful company, I always remind myself that enhancing professional development does not end at 5:00 on a Friday.
Professional development often occurs throughout daily life at times you may not even realize it is happening. Not only does professional development benefit you as a public relations practitioner, it also benefits the greater whole- your company. Professional development is no longer optional for young professionals, it is an essential factor to continue to learn, grow and stand out. It is no longer sufficient to rely solely on your company to offer development opportunities. Go above and beyond – knowledge is power!
Here are four ways young public relations practitioners can advance professional growth outside the office setting.
Pay attention to your “soft skills.”
Knowing how you work on an internal/personal level is essential for professional growth. Take a personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and better understand your leadership style. Learn how you function in group settings and what you need to be successful in your workplace. Understanding this information will be useful to not just you, but your colleagues as well.
Change your habits when it comes to news consumption.
While you may enjoy reading BuzzFeed and Gawker to get your news, it is important to remember where everyone else in your professional life consumes their news. Your clients may care about being in the Wall Street Journal or The Economist. Reading a broader range of media allows you to come up with ideas for where to take client stories. It also equips you better to pitch those media because you are familiar with what they cover, who writes about what, etc.
Utilize the abundance of resources around you.
In this day and age, there are a variety of ways to learn a new skill. Participate in webinars. Take a night class. Listen to a podcast. Read! Whether you spend five minutes a day listening to a business podcast on your commute in or you take a day off from work to attend a social media conference, every little bit counts.
Get involved on a committee within a professional organization or volunteer.
Professional organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) provide a fantastic way to get additional experience outside the office. Looking to gain more experience with a specialized skill? Depending on client needs, sometimes you may not have the chance during your work day to strengthen that particular skill you would like to. Seek out opportunities within professional associations such as joining a committee, where you can develop the skill. Don’t have access to join a professional association? Volunteer your services and perform pro-bono work to help you strengthen your skills.
What are your tips to advance your professional knowledge outside of the office?