There are many ways to update skills or learn new skills. If you are unsure how to proceed, ask yourself: What do I need, or want, to learn; how much time am I able to invest; and how much money will I need to spend? If you have multiple needs or interests, determine which are most pressing and which are long-term educational goals. Then, consider how you can effectively meet your needs, in terms of educational requirements, and the time and money you can afford to invest. You might sharpen some of your skills with a little time and/or money. Other goals, such as requiring a new skill set, or perhaps a degree, may require further education, more time, and more money.
Here are nine ways to sharpen your skill set.
- Read a Blog. Industry gurus abound, and many can be found sharing their knowledge through a blog on a regular basis. Once you find a reliable, informative blog, bookmark it and check in regularly. If an RSS feed is offered, allow the feed, and the information will come to you. It is a free, steady stream of current information.
- Download a Podcast. Many podcasts (audio or digital media files) are free, and they cover a wide range of subject matter. Training techniques, legal information, listening skills, language courses … there is a podcast for every subject. Podcast.com and iTunes offer large collections, and many institutions and industry professional associations also feature informative podcasts on their websites. They can be downloaded to your computer and portable media player, and you can listen (or watch) and learn at your convenience.
- Read a Magazine. Magazines related to your interests are still a great source of information. Save pages with interesting subject matter and read them later while you are waiting for a client, flying to a business meeting, or when you have spare time. More magazines are also offering an online choice that you can easily access through your laptops or smart phone.
- Teach Yourself. Texts are available on any subject, and the cost of a quality training or self-help manual is far less than the cost of a class. Tackle your training as if you would any project, and hold yourself accountable; create a training plan with a timeframe and goals for each chapter. Allot enough time daily or weekly to read, practice techniques, reflect upon what you read, review additional resources, and test yourself. Set aside time when you are at your best and have no interruptions. If you have difficulty shutting out office work, go to another room, the library, or a quiet coffee shop, and study there.
- Attend a Conference. From the basics to new techniques, methods, ideas, and products—conferences can be a fount of information. If you only attend one conference a year, find one that offers substantial learning opportunities through informative class sessions or roundtables. Evaluate session information and presenter biographies. Once you have selected a conference, plan your conference day around those sessions that are most valuable to you, and use your extra time to check out new products or services and to talk with vendors. You can learn much from other professionals attending the conference, so be sure to network and share experiences.
- Hire a Consultant. Consultants are available to do more than solve problems. They can also provide training in an area in which you feel your skills are lagging. If you need to brush up on sales skills, public speaking, budgeting ability, hiring methods, computer skills, or more, consider hiring a consultant to provide you with an honest assessment, train you, and show you how to continue to improve your skills.
- Check Out Adult Education Classes. If you need a little training in a specific area or you want to explore a new interest, you may benefit most from an adult education class at your local high school or college, or by classes taught by an industry association. Costs are generally low and the time commitment might range from one or two sessions to once a week for five to ten weeks.
- Pack Your Bookbag. You might consider a return to college to take several courses, earn a certificate, or earn that degree you always wanted. Since higher education requires more of an investment in terms of time and finances, ask yourself what additional education will more quickly help you to reach your business and personal goals or learn new theories or practices in your current area of expertise. How much money can you spend and how much time can you allot and still keep a viable business? What family concessions may need to be made? Colleges are offering many different paths to achieve the same end (online, weekend, nights, and part-time learning); choose a path that works for you and your family and to which you can safely commit.
- Teach to Learn. Sometimes the best way to sharpen your skills is to teach what you know to others. When you teach a short-term or one-time class, you can promote your business, educate others, relearn some aspects of your work, and learn new material to present to your class. Teaching will require an investment of time, but you may be able to earn a little money in the process.
Interested in applying your leadership skills towards an MBA degree? Contact us at 855-JWU-1881 or [email protected] to learn more about Johnson & Wales’s online MBA degrees. You can also fill out the “Request Info” form on this page.