There are many ways to get ahead in this sector. In fact, there are many ways to get ahead in life. Recently, I was chatting over dinner with a few colleagues about how people can get ahead in the sector. There were many ideas, but one kept coming up over and over—learning and professional development. I want to share with you today the top three topics and insights into why. I will look at learning and professional development last, but really, all three intertwined.
- Networking was a close second to professional development and learning. Much of what we talked about with networking related to professional development. We determined there are two types of networking—in-person and virtual. To get ahead, you need to attend conferences like SponsorshipX or the Western Sponsorship Congress® WSC Alberta Forum and others to network with industry peers and leaders. Also, attend SMCC/AFP luncheons and other non-conference events. Meet people, connect with them, expand your network, rekindle and support it. It is critical to attend in person.
Social networking is critical too. Be on LinkedIn and other platforms. Read and learn what other are doing/sharing. Get newsletters with industry insights like VITREO’s Weekly News Recap . Share content and thank people for posting. Provide your thoughts and insights on a post or article. Write your own articles and share them. Reach out through DM just to say “hi” to folks or congratulate them on a promotion, new job, or birthday. Engage!
- Step out of your comfort zone. All three of us felt that people today are not stepping outside their comfort zones. You don’t have to start a business or go skydiving, but if you have never spoken in a board room or on a stage, go for it. Ask for support from your peers and get what you need to push the envelope. It may mean applying for a job you don’t think you are qualified for on paper but have the “chops” to do well. Maybe it is speaking up in a meeting, or better yet, expressing a differing opinion. Get outside your comfort zone. One person at this dinner spoke about how they had one of their staff members do the 5 Minute Pitch at the Western Sponsorship Congress® WSC Alberta Forum and as a result, is now a great speaker, and also much more confident in their asks! The WSC® Alberta Forum is accepting applications to be on the 5 Minute Pitch Panel. Push your envelope today and reach out to the WSC® Alberta Forum or email me directly.
- Professional development kept coming up over and over again. One person at the dinner spoke about professional designations like CFRE through the Association of Professional Fundraisers. For myself and the one other, it was learning about new ideas and innovations as well as best practices by attending industry conferences and training like the Western Sponsorship Congress® WSC Alberta Forum. Attending conferences, workshops, and other training is critical, even for an old-timer like me! I take away so much when I attend conferences. This week, I am at Calgary Compass. Next week, I am in Edmonton at the Faith, Fundraising, and Communication Conference. Later this month, I am at the CAMA Conference in Deerhurst, Ontario. Next month, I will be at three conferences, and later this week, I will register for The Partnership Conference in Toronto in November. To get ahead and stay ahead, I need to learn from others. Professional development activities such as conferences, industry workshops, and meetings are critical to growth and learning.
To get ahead and stay ahead, make sure you network, step outside your comfort zone, and partake in the professional development available to you.
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