Sharpen Your Professional Skills Outside Work With These 15 Tips

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POST WRITTEN BY Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

The business world waits for no one, especially in an age of rapid technological changes and advancements. No matter where you work or what your title is, you want to make sure you’re constantly learning and progressing.

While some businesses provide formal training for employees to enhance their professional development, others leave that initiative to their workers. If your company falls into the latter group, you might want to take your professional training into your own hands. Below, Forbes Coaches Council members share ways to sharpen your skills outside of work.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council share resources for boosting your professional skills outside work.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Join A Professional Association

Find a professional association that includes skill development in its annual activities. Memberships are relatively inexpensive, and often an employer will help pick up the cost. You might choose an association based on your industry, your function or possibly even based on your clients’ needs. You’ll learn best practices and pick up new skills to enhance your career along the way. – Jill HauwillerLeadership Refinery

2. Get A Mentor

Find someone outside of work who demonstrates the professional skills you desire and whose success you admire. Explain that you want to learn from them and ensure that it’s a reciprocal relationship. Hold a series of conversations about the skills you seek. Try to shadow and observe them in their workplace. Practice your learning back on the job and debrief your success and challenges with them. – Loren MargolisTraining & Leadership Success LLC

3. Take Advantage Of Online Resources

Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you are capable of. If your organization is not offering a path for growth, then you need to take the initiative and start looking at YouTube, LinkedIn and/or other alternatives for technical growth. There are usually inexpensive ways to increase your knowledge and to increase industry knowledge. Just look; it’s out there. – Michelle WeathersbyLENS Consulting Firm

4. Build A Professional Development Network On Social Media

Self-development is critical to honing the skills and knowledge to keep a career on track. A way to develop professionally is to use social media to identify experts in an industry or profession. What books, blogs, podcasts and other resources do they share? Taking that approach, motivated individuals can build a professional development network that will keep them relevant and always learning. – Jonathan SilkBridge 3 LLC

5. Read To Learn And Apply The Lessons

How many books do you read in a month? The likelihood that you will say “not enough” is pretty high, isn’t it? If you don’t like reading books, listen to audiobooks. Make it a daily habit to read or listen to a nonfiction book for at least 15 minutes. Once you have finished a book, implement one newly learned hack, strategy or philosophy into your life. Read to learn, not only to enjoy. – Dr. Natalia WiechowskiThink Natalia

6. Volunteer With A Nonprofit

Serving your community is a great way to hone new skills, showcase your expertise and build your personal brand. Look for an organization that aligns with your passion and serve as a committee chair/member. Volunteer to lead projects and initiatives that align with the skill set you want to develop. You can then add this experience to your resume and performance review. – Kyshira MoffettThe KSM Group

7. Write And Practice Your Personal Stories

If you create five strong stories about yourself, you will undoubtedly reuse them. Whether it’s in interviewing, networking, public relations, profile bios, public speaking or even in discussions with your clients, you need to understand yourself first. You can do this by practicing how you speak about your impact, value and stories verbally and in writing. Refine and adapt them too over time. – Joanne MarkowGreenMason

8. Teach Yourself The Latest Industry Software

No industry remains immune to technology changes and advancements. In over 26 years of coaching serious careerists, nobody has hurt their career prospects by staying as current as possible on new software impacting their industry. Even if your company isn’t supporting your technical advancement mindset, you must give this high importance throughout your career. – John M. O’ConnorCareer Pro Inc.

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