I talk to people about career planning and professional development quite a bit. It’s common to find them wanting to grow, but unsure of how, and more unsure of what is worthwhile. One of the things I recommend most often is to give a presentation at one of the community events. It grows a whole array of skills, it’s approachable, and it’s something you can do once and decide if you like it (nice compared to blogging for example) and you get instant feedback (audience interaction plus evaluations).
I’ve found myself explaining that “array of skills” more than once (and probably missing some each time), so I’m writing it down so I can point to it:
- Finding a topic you know something about and learning to share that with others effectively (and finding out that doing that isn’t always easy)
- Practice at public speaking
- A chance to network and build your networking skills
- Learning to build a PowerPoint (or whatever) deck
- You get to become “one of them”, the speakers that is, a whole new set of peers
- It’s a very nice bullet for the resume or interview discussion, or for the annual review! (Think any of your peers are doing this?)
- It will probably have you ordering business cards (for the networking)
- It will make you think about your social media presence – maybe LinkedIn isn’t enough (and that is current, right?)
- You’ll be a volunteer to help others grow. Giving back is good karma.
- You will, maybe for the first time, be helping to grow the craft you’ve chosen
Will it be hard and stressful? Sure. How much matters on who you are and how hard you’re willing to work,but it will be stressful. Is that bad? You want to grow,right? Growth takes sweat and a bit of risk.
You’ll be proud of doing this. You’ll be telling everyone at work that you’re doing it, you’ll be twisting arms to get them to go, and you’ll be telling them afterward all the stuff you learned that they missed out on. I think you might be surprised by how big a step forward this can be for you.
I truly think everyone can do this, but to be fair not everyone is ready today, and some will need coaching. Not being ready is ok. Figuring out how to get ready – that’s part of the growing.