We all want a career that lights us up. Great pay. Supportive mentors. Progressive manager. Awesome team. Important mission. And an environment where we can be our authentic selves. That’s why focusing on professional growth is a must when you’re looking to level up your career. Professional growth refers to the acquisition of skills and experiences that will help you unlock your career potential. By getting clear on what you want, honing relevant skills, acquiring new experiences, and crafting a killer professional network – you can take control and get super intentional about how to grow professionally.
But where do you start? Like anything in the self-help world, googling ‘how do I grow professionally?’ can yield mixed results. That’s why we created this handy list of 20 ways to help you grow professionally in 2022.
Feeling like your professional circle has been a little ‘blah’ lately? Shake it up by joining new meetups and groups in your area. Professional women in tech. Young start-up founders. Recent college grad networking. You’re bound to find like-minded people to connect with, get insights into other roles and team culture, as well as possibly get the inside scoop on the next rocket ship.
If you want to go the extra mile, then consider presenting at one or offering to run a workshop, this can open up learning opportunities, and collaboration in the future as well as instant credibility within the tech community. If you are wondering where to find the best meetups, then start by checking Meetup and Eventbrite.
Clarity and reflection are big when you’re trying to figure out how to grow professionally. You have to know what you want before you can go out and achieve it. Get yourself a trusty journal (we love using Notion), schedule some quiet time every day, and start writing down what’s important to you about your career and what you want your professional work-life to look like.
Does the thought of endless networking on the Internet scare you? No worries. Join a community to avoid the awkward ‘hi, my name is…’ moments you get when hopping into a Meetup group. Check out Reddit, Quora, or the hive index to find your perfect fit. The hive index has hundreds of Slack and Discord communities to choose from with topics ranging from career planning to crypto. It’s a great way to expand your network, especially if you make time in your schedule to contribute. Many communities host regular roundtable discussions which are a fantastic way to get to know other people in your space and learn and grow professionally together.
A mastermind is a collection of like-minded peers who band together to solve problems. Not sure how to ask for a raise? Wondering what role would best suit you in the tech world? Struggling to be a great communicator? All of these big questions get thrown into your mastermind group, then you leave with advice, solutions, and action steps. These groups tend to be local so head to Google and see what’s around the corner.
Networking is usually about meeting new people, but what about the awesome people who already know you? Reach out to high school friends, past teachers, professors, and managers. See how things are going in their world and propose a cup of coffee and a reconnect. A strong network is all about nurture and by building relationships now, you set your future self up for professional success.
Twitter is a great way to stay tuned in on what’s going on in the world of tech. It has nearly limitless potential for advancing your career and helping you grow professionally. You can chat with people publicly, share your ideas, and build an audience for free.
Peaking in the pandemic, Clubhouse is pure gold for learning, speaking, and, connecting. If you’re late to the party, Clubhouse is a social network that uses voice to connect people through rooms. You can unmute yourself to ask questions and use the platform to build credibility and relationships.
There’s something about getting ultra-into a professional podcast that just makes you feel like you can take on your workday with ease. Test out a few until you find that one that gives you incredible info, action steps, and a lot of motivation. Combine that with a daily walk, you’ll be working your mind and body every day.
Sometimes the secret to growing professionally is to expand your knowledge base. Learn a new technical skill or sharpen up your communication know-how with a structured program. Check out Maven for some inspiration.
Set a realistic goal for how often you’ll be networking and choose mediums you enjoy. If you’re a social butterfly, get out there and hit up some alumni events or join a professional networking group in your city. If you prefer to stay remote then there are a ton of communities that have a #coffee-chat channel powered by Donut or there’s the lunchclub app that randomly pairs you with someone in your area of interest.
Building online proof of work in the form of a portfolio, side projects, and a blog presence is a no-regrets play when it comes to demonstrating your professional value add. Voice your thoughts online and record those passion projects on social. This way, when you’re face-to-face with your dream role and dream team you have tons of validation behind you and can talk confidently about skills you’ve explored and experimented with.
Cold outreach is tough, isn’t it? But getting proactive and reaching out to someone you admire in your domain is genius if you want to be where they are and understand what it takes to get there. DM someone on Twitter and ask politely for a few minutes of their time and structure your session like an informational interview. Don’t ask them for anything, but be genuinely interested in their story and journey and explain that you are considering following in their footsteps. These go a long way and are a great way to build your network and learn where and how to grow professionally.
Starting a side project and learning how to create something from scratch like a newsletter, a blog or a Shopify store is a fantastic way to discover what you do and don’t like doing. This experience will inform you where you need to grow professionally. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people, we’d recommend checking out the #buildinpublic movement on Twitter or joining the IndieHacker community for inspiration.
There are a lot of books out there, written by incredible people, full of insights and interesting narratives. Whether you’re trying to up your design skills or master building great professional habits, there is always a great read out there for you. Here are some of our best picks that help you learn how to grow professionally:
Books, not your thing? The world of blogs is extensive. Find a blog with actionable, well-researched information and subscribe. You’ll get great morning reads, lots of insights, and a fun thing to do when you’re drinking coffee. Some favorites from us where you can learn how to grow professionally:
Conferences and events are a concentrated 2-4 day period of workshops and keynotes with people in Tech. Choose events where your peers will be so you can meet others in a similar place as you but at different companies. You can brainstorm, expand your network and even run into someone who becomes your future teammate.
Not all companies have flat hierarchies. Suppose you aren’t working in a startup or your startup has grown to hundreds of employees. In that case, part of learning how to grow professionally is making sure you’re getting exposure to scenarios beyond your typical role and job description. This is what the somewhat vague ‘put yourself out there means! It might feel scary at first, but asking to join cross-functional meetings or have coffee with someone you wouldn’t usually work with day to day are huge when it comes to learning how to grow professionally.
With all this flex and remote work, it can be tough to have that same level of camaraderie and sense of belonging in the workplace. By hopping on virtual coworking sessions or hitting up the local collab spot with some of your team, you can swap ideas, talk about your careers and support one another during your working breaks. It’s the perfect combo between professional time and social time.
At work, it can be easy to settle. You can coast along with the same familiar faces around you every day just 'because'. But this can be detrimental to your professional growth, you need to intentionally surround yourself with people who are going to push you and hold you accountable. Here are 3 simple questions to help you figure out whether you need to change things up:
You do not have to settle for mediocrity in this space.
One of the best ways to understand how to grow professionally is to invite feedback from your team. Reflecting on who you really are and how you work is one thing but the real magic happens when you invite your mentors and teammates into that conversation to constructively contribute. The result? Incredible insights on how to grow professionally, where your improvement opportunities are, and what superpowers you have but just didn’t know! Shameless plug incoming, but if you’re not sure how to have that conversation with your teammates, at Candor, we’ve built a free tool that helps you build self-awareness, authenticity, trust, and confidence as well as giving you absolute clarity on what value you bring to your team.
So if you are ready to up your professional growth, create your profile here (it’s completely free and only takes a minute to get started).