Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Building a Professional Development Plan (Step 1)

In step 1, you’ll be identifying what professional knowledge, skills, experience, and connections add to or subtract from your professional value. Strengths add to your value, weaknesses subtract from it.

What is professional value? Professional value is what differentiates you from other professionals. It is an objective perception. It may sound like an oxymoron because perception in itself is subjective, but the same strengths and weaknesses that made you seem invaluable can make you seem less than the standard depending on the situation and the people involved. However, this assessment is for yourself and your business, so as you go through brainstorming and creating your lists, think about the needs of your business. How valuable are you to your own business?

To get an idea of your professional value, you will be listing your strengths and weaknesses for each of these professional categories: knowledge, skills, experience, and connections. You will then assess yourself based on your lists. Let’s call this assessment your professional profile and each category a section.

NOTE: As you go through each section in your profile, think in terms of business management, leadership, as well as industry and profession specific topics.

The rest of this post has descriptions and examples to help you better understand each section and get your thoughts flowing.  

Knowledge is information and skills acquired through experience or education, but knowledge does not assume understanding. With that in mind, knowledge is a strength if you have and understand it. Knowledge can also be a strength if you have more information on a particular subject than the average person in the related field. Additionally, possessing knowledge that is rare or not easily accessible can also be a strength. To determine if something in this category is a weakness, you have to think about what you don’t know. Consider this proverb: “She who knows what she does not know is wise. She he who knows not what she does not know is a fool.”

Skills are something you can put into practice; you can also measure the results you produce. If you can effectively and confidently teach and demonstrate a skill, it is a strength. It is also a strength if you produce results that are consistently above the standard. A weak skill is something you have trouble putting into practice.

Experience comes in many forms. When you are putting your list together, don’t forget things like volunteer jobs and small projects including ones for friends, family, and school. Experience is a strength if it was a unique or uncommon experience or if you have 5+ years of firsthand experience in a particular area. If an experience negatively impacts your credentials, it is a weakness. Refer to your completed knowledge and skills lists if you have trouble brainstorming for this section; think about what experiences had a significant impact on acquiring or improving your skills and knowledge.

This section is all about the people in your network, the people that should be in your network, and your level of influence within your network. If you have significant influence over a particular network or influence over someone who does, that connection is a strength. If you have a bad/negative reputation within a network, that is a weakness. If you do not belong to common and easily accessible networks that are in line with your goals and professional persona, that is also a weakness.

How'd you do?
Your completed profile will serve as your starting point for your professional development, so it is important that you are thorough and honest. If you don’t have many strengths, it could be an indication that you lack focus or direction in your career. Many weaknesses can indicate that your approach may need adjustment.

In step 2, you will be completing a similar exercise and thinking about your goals. Goals should be SMART so a good plan can be made to achieve them. Think about that while you wait to see what’s in store for the next step.

#ShesaBoss and #theGB

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