October 28, 2019

Staying relevant through continuous professional development

Keep abreast of what customers want and how to reach them, and focus on networking

You’re probably wondering why you still have to learn or continue to develop your skills even after you’ve completed school, university, or even a PhD. It’s a fair question. I asked myself the same question until I realised that the essence of competency is limitless.

It is vital to ensure that you always have the necessary capabilities for your professional career, because life is always advancing and changing. So why stop with just the knowledge you have attained?

Staying up-to-date is one of the biggest challenges we face in the business world. I’m sure you have observed an acceleration in the pace of change in your profession. If you don’t follow up and keep yourself up-to-date, you will definitely get left behind because of a lack of relevant knowledge and skills.

For instance, remember when everyone you knew owned a BlackBerry? It was considered the best mobile device to have only a few years ago. However, the company lost its touch and failed to innovate in a consumer-technology market that Apple and Google had taken over with their iOS and Android mobile operating systems. BlackBerry also failed to recognise that smartphones would evolve into more than just communication devices and that they would turn into entertainment hubs and more.

The lesson learned from this is that you need to identify what your consumers are looking for, stay up-to-date and relevant, keep up with changes and respond in a timely and effective manner.

For a start, it is important to know where your target audience spends their time to make sure you are getting accurate and relevant information about their expectations, needs and wants. Whether it be face to face or virtually, as soon as we are disconnected from them we will lose our relevance. We have to put ourselves in their shoes, make ourselves flexible and connect with them accordingly, because we want them to be satisfied and make sure they are hungry for more of what we are offering.

Ask yourself: Are we interesting enough?

No one likes a bore, or anything that does not interest them. It’s time for you to stand out, to communicate in ways that others can’t. When you leave something stagnant for too long, it becomes stale or rotten. You need to make sure your consumers are continuously engaged with your product or service. Make sure it attracts or excites them just the way you hoped it would.

Your loyal customers are an asset to your business and you need to be aware of the latest and best ways to reach them. That’s where continuous professional development comes in, because it helps you open up new skills, knowledge and possibilities.

One of the best ways to help you expand your horizons is by networking. Forming relationships with other individuals or people in fields related to yours will enhance your ability to discover new partners and customers, along with business leads.

Business leads in this sense means developing business opportunities with those that could be potential clients or customers. When it comes to success, it isn’t always what you know but who you know. Sometimes when you build relationships with certain people, it creates an avenue for new ideas to emerge and foster growth.

Did you know that a simple interaction with an individual could strike up a great business idea or an invention you wouldn’t normally see coming? Just sharing ideas and networking among your peers can unleash abundant creative talent hidden within you.

However, make sure you choose the right people to network with and ignore those who could distract you or even be of harm to you or the business. Having reliable connections is your gateway to improvement and advancement.

The pointers I have mentioned are what the real world is going to train you for — and that’s part of your continuous professional development. What you learned in school or university is mostly theory-based, and your challenge now is to translate those theories into concrete actions every day on the job. You need a work ethic that includes a strong desire to constantly learn. This will create more opportunities and help you overcome many of the barriers to success that you might face.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC, Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at arinya_t@new.seasiacenter.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa. Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at https://www.yournextu.com