With so many professional development opportunities available to us at any given time, how do we decide which ones are worth investing our time and energy? Right now, we are seeing a massive increase in online training since gathering in groups is not an option, so how do you choose? And, on a limited budget, which ones can we justify to our employers and ourselves? Does professional development always need a “measurable outcome”? The answers may not be as simple as you think. Here are three guidelines that may help you choose your next webinars, workshops, books, podcasts, etc…
1) Know your “why”
Let’s reframe the question. Rather than asking “when” is it worth it, how about asking “why” should I attend this online training? It is so important to be clear about WHY you are doing anything, especially when it involves an investment of resources (your time, money, energy). Everything you do is taking the place of something else you could be doing with that time. As Greg McKeown states in his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, “The reality is, saying yes to any opportunity by definition requires saying no to several others.”
Given that fact, is an hour on a webinar important enough to supplant an hour helping a client or coworker? Or perhaps attending that webinar will allow you to help hundreds of people with your new-found skills and knowledge, in which case, it’s certainly worthwhile.
If your “why” is a measure of a real desire to learn something, rather than because you think you “should”, then that may be a strong indicator to go for it! Even if that training may be something you use a year or more from now, it could still be worthwhile. For me, my “why” always relates to empowering nonprofits to be successful. I love to learn and teach what I know. So, training that increases my knowledge with the purpose of condensing and sharing that knowledge is always worth my while.
2) How closely does the opportunity align with your career goals?
Have you ever had your best work-related ideas come to you while you are walking, doing yoga, gardening, or pursuing a creative hobby? If so, maybe a watercolor painting class can help you with your work as a grant professional. There is an abundance of research that shows creativity boosts your health, happiness, innovation, and problem-solving abilities – all of which are essential to our profession, given the pressure of grant deadlines and multi-tasking. Even if a course is something that will not be paid for by your employer, it may be worthwhile for jump-starting your creativity and desire to serve in the grant profession.
On the other hand, you may benefit from a training that is directly related to something you want to learn to improve your abilities as a grant professional. Even having been in this profession for decades, I always learn from my peers at the Grant Professionals Association conference and through webinars.
3) Who or what organization is providing professional development?
One way to determine which professional development opportunity to pursue, is to review the credentials of the organization and/or the person conducing a training. Maybe there are some instructors whose style and knowledge you know and trust, or perhaps there is a new organization that may offer something you’ve always wanted to learn. With social media (LinkedIn and others) and other search tools readily available, it’s easy to research and find out more about a presenter or organization.
Hopefully this article gave you some guidelines for selecting your next professional development opportunity. I look forward to hearing YOUR ideas so please share them here!
How do YOU determine which professional development opportunities are worthwhile?
Margit Brazda Poirier, GPC, M.S. is Owner and CEO of Grants4Good LLC, a grant development consulting company that specializes in online training and workshops. www.grants4good.com
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