Professional Development in 3 Simple Steps for Start-Up and Entrepreneurs

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Written by Amanda R. Kelly

Professional Development Tips from Markham Public Library

In today’s rapidly evolving economy and labour market, individual professional development is critical and constant. An abundance of platforms, styles, and opportunities for learning also make it complex. This series explores accessible, cost-efficient approaches to PD and how to make the most of them through the library. 
Are you networked?
Networking is frequently touted as the ideal way to expand your contact base, market your organization, and tap into the hidden job market. Emphasizing quality over quantity, Geoffrey Malleck, Associate Director of University of Waterloo’s Economic Development Program, recommends shifting objectives from superficial introductions to meaningful collaborations. 
The first Monday of each month Markham Library partners with Startup York for Entrepreneurs in Residence, where local entrepreneurs share experiences in a TEDx style talk. Held at Angus Glen Library, these free events are an ideal opportunity to expand your professional network. While there, consider these 3 key networking strategies:
1. Seek to build.
Every relationship you form will expand your connected learning community (CLC) and present opportunities for mutual support and collaboration. Always have an open mind in initial conversations; be prepared to share your story and look for parallels in others’ experiences. With this in mind, be cognizant of opportunities for networking beyond formal events – connections from the gym or cafe may become unexpected collaborators or colleagues!
2. A method to the mingling.
Openness, engagement, and critical feedback are qualities of active listening that are almost always reciprocated, making your CLC an ideal support network and idea incubator. Be prepared to share the story of your career journey and inspiration, and investigate intersections and similarities between each other’s industries or approaches. The potential for remarkable parallels – especially across fields and development stages – is endless.
3. Follow up.
In his studies of intelligent selling for business development, William Smalley of Route Five International Inc found that professionals fail to contact 73% of new leads generated. Relationships are a two-way give and take, and require regular maintenance. After asking for their card, reach out to your new contact in the days following your meeting; demonstrate their impact on you by relating a point from your conversation to a subsequent occurrence, realization, or finding. Ensure the relationship is ongoing and positive by forwarding pertinent articles, asking opinions on current news, and meeting for an occasional coffee.

Source: The VOICE, Markham's Executive Business Magazine.  2015 Spring Issue. Page 12

Written by: Amanda R. Kelly, the Business Community Librarian in the City of Markham Library’s Community Development Department.  Reach Amanda at akelly@ and 905-513-7977 x5340 – or on Twitter @markhamlibrary. 

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