Professional development is a term that we hear tossed around from time to time. Its meaning can be ambiguous, yet its importance to career development and advancement is essential.

Every employee and entrepreneur must strategically enhance their career mobility through professional development.

Professional development is nothing more than a series of learning opportunities that allow you to enhance what you already know and to learn something totally new for the purpose of attaining more in your career.

The key benefit of professional development is that the skills and knowledge you attain through the various learning opportunities should assist you in your personal development and career advancement.

Professional development is not a one-shot deal. It must be done on an ongoing basis. Since professional development can occur in the form of seminars, workshops, coaching sessions, college degrees, certifications, and/or training sessions, employees and entrepreneurs must determine when and how they will invest in professional development.

Here are some recommended suggestions for investing in professional development for your personal and career advancement:

1) Identify what it is you want to do. Do an assessment of what you want to accomplish in your position, job, business, or career. (EXAMPLE: Become the number one sales person in the company). In addition, review the requirements that you must meet in order to maintain your position, job, business, or career. (EXAMPLE: Obtain 30 hours of continuing education units annually). Jot down those aspirations and requirements in a notebook, journal, Outlook task manager, or electronic spreadsheet on your computer. Once you have written down your aspirations and position requirements, you can periodically use the list as a reference point for determining the learning opportunities in which you can invest to maintain your professional development.

2) Identify the skills and talents you already possess that can help you to do what you want to do. Consider the skills and talents that you are currently using on a day-to-day, month-to-month and year-to-year basis that help you to successfully perform in your position, job, business, or career. List them in your journal, notebook, spreadsheet, or task manager along with the number of years and instances in which you have used them. (EXAMPLE: Teaching adult learners for over 10 years as a consultant, professional speaker and corporate trainer). This awareness helps you to understand the skills and talents you already possess that are contributing toward your professional development and advancement.

3) Identify the skills you must acquire that will help you to do what it is you want to do. It is always good to do an assessment to see what may be holding you back or keeping you stagnate in achieving your career aspirations or meeting your job requirements. Honestly determine the skills and/or talents that you are lacking (or in which you may be weak) that are holding you back in your career advancement. Figure out the information and knowledge you will need to learn that can help you to develop these skills and/or talents. Make a list of the skills and/or talents you want to possess that could potentially move you forward professionally. Identify how that skill and/or talent can help you in your position, job, business, or career. (EXAMPLE: Learn marketing principles that can help me in creating a solid marketing plan which will garner additional business and revenue opportunities).

4) Identify the resources you can use that will help you with developing and/or enhancing the skills and/or talents that will position you to do what you want to do. Keep in mind that resources can be in the form of people, classes, organizations, books, CDs, DVDs, training sessions, certifications, workshops, college degrees, or seminars. It will be up to you to determine the most appropriate resource(s) you must use to help you do what you want to do in your position, job, business, or career. The main thing to do is to determine if there are people with whom you can form a coaching or mentoring relationship. If so, connect with them and get started on building your skills. In addition, determine if there are organizations that you can join which can help you in developing and enhancing your skills and talents. If so, join those organizations and become actively involved in taking advantage of all the benefits those organizations have to offer you. Whether a person or organization, class or certification, seminar or DVD, the key is to make sure you use every resource at your disposal that can help you in developing and/or enhancing your skills and/or talents toward your professional development.

5) Finish any projects, classes, credentials, or accreditations that can help you to do what it is you want to do. One final aspect to consider when investing in professional development is not what you must start but what you must finish that will help you to successfully advance in your position, job, business, or career. Perhaps you have already taken the time to do the first four items of identify what you want to do; identify the skills and talents you have that can help you to do what you want to do; identify the skills and talents you must develop and/or enhance to do what you want to do; and identify the resources to help you do what you want to do. Maybe you have even created your list and followed your list toward investing in your professional development endeavors. Yet, perhaps something happened that caused you to lose focus and stop working your plan which is now leaving you personally and professionally stagnate.

It will be important for you to finish what you have started. In spite of the stagnation, it is possible to get back on track. The important thing for you to do is to determine why you got sidetracked, how far along you are toward achieving your desired aspirations and mandated position requirements and what you must do to finish your professional development endeavors.

Ask yourself, “What 10 things must I do in order to get back on track with my professional development?” Use your answers as possible solutions. Work those solutions to get back on track. Once you are back on track, enjoy investing in your professional development.

Professional development helps to keep you at the top of your professional game. It allows you to develop, build upon and enhance skills and/or talents that will make you a valuable asset as an employee, consultant or entrepreneur.

Find the time to invest in your professional development. Make professional development a number one priority in your position, job, business, or career. When you do, you will experience more enjoyment and fulfillment both personally and professionally.

Author's Bio: 

Cassandra "D.I.V.A. of Dialog™" Lee helps administrative professionals remove the landmines blocking their workplace satisfaction and career success. In almost 20 years, she has delivered, facilitated and presented over 20,000 one-day seminars and events. Her book, Emotional Wellness for Women, Volume II is a must-read, comprehensive resource for professional women. It provides support and encouragement for dealing with emotional obstacles, especially with recovering from loss. She provides regular tips on professional development via her free newsletter, “Dialog Digest™.” To receive a copy, sign-up at SPECIAL BONUS: When you sign-up to receive “Dialog Digest™,” you will get a free copy of her report (a $10 value), “Don’t Push Them Down a Flight of Stairs! 3 Ways to Strengthen Your Work Relationships.” You can also book her today to deliver her signature message, "Put on Your Rhinestone Combat Boots! 7 Principles to Elevate Your Career and Your Life" at your next training program, conference, or event. Visit to complete an Event Request Form.