Let’s face it: As young professionals on the come-up, sometimes our pockets don’t match our ambitions or the major boss moves we want to make. There are many free resources out there to help you with career development and networking, but sometimes, that age-old saying “You get what you pay for,” rings a little too true. Cheap—or free—isn’t always good enough to take you to the next level.
Sometimes funds aren’t the issue. Maybe you work at a multimillion-dollar firm but they don’t want to risk investing in you—the young, very capable, mid-level employee— yet.
What do you do if you can’t immediately afford to invest in courses, key industry events or training that will ensure you rub elbows with the top executives in your field and position yourself for ultimate success?
Try these tips to remove a few limits to your success:
1. Present a letter to your company asking for sponsorship: If you can’t afford the registration fee, let alone the travel expenses, to attend that awesome leadership development conference, put together a sales pitch that your boss can’t say no to.
If you need help, check the Web for examples of how to formulate a sponsor letter or pitch for sponsorship. For example, Black Enterprise has three main career, leadership and business development events targeted to executives, professionals and entrepreneurs, including the Women of Power Summit. On the summit’s event site, there’s a form letter you can present to your supervisor to explain why they should invest in your professional development via attendance.
2. Create a Personal/Professional Development Fund: This is just like that “Saving for the Wedding Day Fund” or that “Homebuying Fund.” If you put a name to your money (a designation, if you will), you’ll be more likely to keep the fund on the up and up. Find a savings account that has a competitive interest rate and that you won’t be likely to dip into every now and then. With this, you won’t be strapped for cash when its time to make power moves to that conference or new business class.
3. Pool and utilize resources right in front of you: Many conferences and training programs have group and student rates. Also, schools and employers have resources available to fund your career development if its applicable to your studies or your job. Consult your guidance counselor, human resources department or professors to find out what’s available. Also, if your network is full of other young professionals looking to be better leaders and businesspeople, why not pool your money and resources together to help one another? What better way to impress your boss than by presenting the results after you and your peers have come back ready to further add to the bottom line? (This might make the first suggestion I mentioned that much more easier to pitch.)
Young professionals, in what ways do you invest in your professional development? #Soundoff and follow me on Twitter @JPHazelwood.
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