Sometimes the best way to boost your career and take it to the next professional level is by constantly challenging yourself, learning new skills and expanding your horizons.
That craving to learn more and work on your professional development should not be ignored: it’s a key way to elevate your career.
After all, if your job feels stale or you feel stagnant, there are steps you can take to invest in yourself without making a huge investment. And isn’t that the best kind?
Find out 9 easy ways to give yourself that professional boost you need, without investing much time or money.
1. Listen to podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to absorb information or gain a new perspective while multitasking. So rather than defaulting to your favourite playlist while on your commute or getting ready for the workday, listen to a podcast — bonus points if it’s career-related.
Some of my favourites include The Lively Show and #GirlBossRadio (especially for the ladies), and The Tim Ferriss Show (author of The 4-Hour Work Week) for everyone.
2. Read, read, read
You’ve likely read this tip time and time again, but there’s no denying it: reading the right business and books can help you learn priceless lessons. Check out the week’s top business books regularly and make a point of reading (at least) one title per month. Downloading to your eReader or tablet is a great way to ensure you have your book with you at all times.
Insider tip: If you find it challenging to carve out time to read, download the audio versions of the same book and listen while commuting, walking the dog or doing another another task that allows for multitasking.
3. Watch TED Talks
If you’re looking for a quick dose of inspiration, watch a 10-minute TED Talk while enjoying your morning cup of coffee.
The entrepreneurs and thought leaders giving TED Talks will give you a jolt of new ideas and a fresh perspective while enjoying your java.
A personal favourite of mine is Simon Sinek’s “How great leaders inspire action”
4. Watch webinars
There’s a plethora of webinars to enjoy, during the day (many take place at lunchtime or when/if you can schedule yourself a break) and evening.
General Assembly is an amazing resource for classes and webinars, on topics such as leveraging your network, taking control of your finances and other entrepreneurial tips. They even offer all-day courses for a fee (if you’re located in a city where GA operates), on topics like learning to code or graphic design, for example.
Insider tip: Even if you’re not interested in becoming a webmaster, for example, learning about search engine optimization can be a bonus skill set for you and make you more marketable, especially if you have a career in the digital space.
5. Take an online course
Even if you don’t use social media in your day-to-day, it’s a great skill to add to your toolbox and your resume.
Social media management tool Hootsuite offers online certification courses. Bonus: completing the six courses offers you free access to its updated courses and exam, so you’re always up to speed as the industry quickly evolves.
I’m a fan of this skill set in particular because knowing the ins and outs of social media can help you market your personal brand, no matter your profession.
And with millennials knowing how to use social media innately, it’s an important way to help you stay relevant.
There’s also the online course platforms which link to a host of classes on everything and anything, from web design and personal brand building to photography and finance (not kidding!). The classes can be found on the Internet and the teachers’ websites. And for the total cost of three cups of coffee (ok more like soy lattes, not regular coffees – but still….).
6. Attend conferences in or out of your industry
If you’re striving for some inspiration IRL (that’s “in real life,” for the Gen Xers), attending a conference either in your city or nearby — or even on a different coast! — can be a worthwhile investment that might not be as expensive as you think.
Insider tip: Seek out the conferences in your sector – if they are specifically related to your job, then perhaps you can even make a case for turning it into a work trip that’s fully (or partly) funded by your employer. List the objectives and reasons why you should attend. It does not hurt to ask!
7. Find and/or become a mentor
Think about former managers or coworkers you’ve had who can serve as great mentors. You can have several mentors (and different ones for different phases of your career), so stay dialed in to who can offer you sage advice over a cup of coffee every now and then. They will surely be flattered that you’re reaching out to them!
On the flipside, deciding to pay it forward and become a mentor as part of a “Big Brother, Big Sister” program in your area, or even online as part of a mentorship program, can be a great way to boost your professional confidence. It will give you renewed perspective and help you feel fulfilled in your role. And this kind of fulfillment is rewarding.
8. Follow the right influencers
Follow thought leaders and influencers like Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington on social media
Their wisdom and experience will serve to shed light on your day-to-day, as well as your future.
Social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk doles out solid business and social media tips on all channels (even on Snapchat as well as on his podcast, The #AskGaryVee Show).
9. Get published
Have some insight to share? Publish your own posts. It’s a great way to assert your voice and perhaps even become a thought leader in your space. And you never know, it can even lead to greater opportunities as a podcaster or author yourself!
Get a boost
Stepping outside of your comfort zone, learning new skills and listening to experts are easy, noncommittal and inexpensive ways to get the boost you need — almost like fine-tuning a sportscar.
Who knows, they might introduce you to a whole new skill you never knew you had or lead you to a new job — and keep you fulfilled and happy in the process.