If you think you have reached the top of your game, think again. Yes, after years of hard work, you may have secured a deal with a major client, reached financial targets, and even swept your dream man off his feet and walked hand and hand into the sunset. But in the real world not everything goes as smoothly as the last few moments of a romantic comedy movie.
Now more than ever in business, it is so important to keep learning and stay current. Particularly in my cut throat industry of Public Relations, the competition is never far behind. These days technology and business practice is developing at an incomprehensible speed. Even with a successful and well established business, it can be easy to stay on course without looking to develop further, particularly if what you’re doing works.
However, since starting Agent99 PR in 2007, I have realised the importance of taking charge of my professional development. My daily routine has been embedded for nearly two decades, from when I first landed in the PR industry. Wake up, check the news headlines. Check industry websites. Make a to-do list for the week, meet with clients, work with my team on strategy and execution, and secure results for the brands we work with time and time again.
However, to develop my company and drive it to where I want it to go has taken some serious proactive learning. It has now become second nature to me to research new training opportunities, attend conferences and seminars, and source advice from my business coach and professional friends. Every month I set myself a learning target of where I can improve my skills and knowledge of my industry.
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Why? Here are my top five essential reasons of the importance of self-directed learning:
1. Studying generates new ideas and business development opportunities
By constantly surrounding yourself with stimulating thoughts and concepts, you are simply building new paths to brilliant business opportunities. By keeping up to date and up skilling, you and your team can inadvertently offer clients new services. It might just give you that edge and point of differentiation in the market.
2. Studying ensures you don’t stay in the dark ages
It is all too easy to remain in your comfort zone, and getting too comfortable with your business may mean getting sloppy. Yes, breaking the mould and pushing business in new directions is scary. However, it is a sure fire way to keep clients old and new engaged. Finding and learning a niche area of expertise will allow your organisation to stand out from the rest.
3. Studying keeps you on top of new trends
As a publicist, it is paramount to learn the inside outs of current trends. Not only does the client expect this of you, it enables you to proactively jump on an opportunity to expose clients to media and their target audience. Educate yourself around current events and trends and use this as a promotional tool to showcase your expertise — the key is to catch people’s attention by talking about what’s hot.
4. Studying helps you get the best out of your team
As a company director, self-learning is imperative to keep the workforce strong by sharing knowledge and ensuring the right training is given to staff. Through attending evening classes and speaking with other professionals, I am able to gauge what training is out there for my team. Also having attended the class myself, I am able to assess whether it may be worthwhile for other team members to undertake it.
5. Studying allows you to network and get the word out about your brand
They do say that it’s not what you know, but it’s who you know. So even if you do not come away with anything majorly significant from a course, you may have made a contact or two who could come in handy in the long run. Also, networking is a great chance to talk to people about the perks of your company, ensuring word spreads and you get your name out there.
Sharon Zeev Poole worked all over the world on high profile brands such as Warner Bros. Pictures and Starbucks Coffee for over 13 years before she founded her own agency in 2007. She is in constant pursuit of the unconventional, looking for ways to implement bold brand campaigns that capture national attention in unexpected ways.
This article first appeared on Women’s Agenda.