Given my limited free time, I’ve found several ways to learn on the go while ensuring a balanced life and the ongoing success of my small business.
Professional Memberships and Certifications
One big reason for my active membership and participation in both PRSA and IABC is that both professional organizations offer low- or no-cost webinars, podcasts, programs and events focusing on the latest in public relations and business communications.
Not only do I try to take advantage of every new learning opportunity, I also maintain my hard-earned accreditation as a public relations professional. I’m accredited by the Public Relations Society of America; the International Association of Business Communicators offers similar certifications.
My membership in professional organizations and my achievements as recognized by international certification are how I set myself apart from other independent communications consultants. I believe my clients appreciate the distinction.
NPR offers interesting reports via its podcasts and on its website that can provide cutting-edge business information and insights. For example, a recent NPR/Marist poll shows that within a decade, contractors and freelancers could make up half of the workforce, a shift with far-reaching implications. The Rise of the Contract Workers report is available at npr.org/series.
Many other podcasts offer up-to-the-minute finance, business, productivity, media and marketing information free of charge and available anytime, 24/7 on demand. Use your commute or your getting-ready-for-work time to your best advantage and learn/listen as you prepare for your busy workday.
Explore almost any topic and learn from experts free of charge on your own time simply by clicking a link on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. One talk that I clicked on lasted less than 15 minutes but provided thought-provoking insight on a trending topic: Veteran reporter Jorge Ramos – famously kicked out of then-candidate Donald Trump’s press conference in 2015 – discussing why he believes that a journalist's responsibility is to question and challenge those in power.
LinkedIn and Lynda.com
Together, Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning offer a huge array of online courses and classes in a vast number of fields. In fact, LinkedIn Learning has more than 17 million users, 14,000 corporate users, and more than 13,000 courses and is growing exponentially after just two years.
LinkedIn Learning is available as a Premium subscription and cost about $30 a month, plus tax. You can try it out for free for a month.
As a recent Forbes.com story suggests, community colleges offer hands-down some of the best educational bang for your buck.
If you’re over 50, you might be eligible for their Plus 50 Initiative, which places an emphasis on training for the workplace. Or you might enroll in the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program. It has helped 10,000 boomers earn high-value degrees or certificates in fields that not only give back but are hiring (such as education, health care and social services). Some community colleges offer free tuition for displaced workers, too.
One browse on Amazon.com or in Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookstore will testify to the amazing number of how-to, trendsetting books offering education, insights, and information about any part of the business world.
At a recent IndyComm event for independent consultants I heard a graphic designer recommend the book, “Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days,” available on Amazon.com in paperback for less than $12.
Authored by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz, “Sprint” garners 4.7 out of five stars from Amazon reviewers who said it offers a dedicated, fast system for strategic product innovation, and that the book provides comprehensive guides, checklists, case studies, and decision-making models to help the reader identify, develop and prototype product and service opportunities.
So, do the research and find the continued learning that will work best for you and your schedule. Stay current. Stay informed. Stay interesting.