When you’re working with channel partners, so much focus goes into ensuring they’re equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed. There’s no doubt that’s important, but are you also putting aside bandwidth to focus on your professional growth?
It can be hard – especially when you’re in a leadership position. You’re busy, stretched thin, and responsible for the growth and well-being of your ecosystem. But you’re doing yourself – and your team – a disservice if you’re not taking the time and making the effort to grow your own skillset. The most effective and successful people have something in common: a commitment to constant improvement and lifelong learning. Want to be one of them? Here are some basics to get you in a growth mindset.
Know your strong and weak spots
Do you know where you need to grow? Periodic self-assessment will provide you that insight. Taking some time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, always helps. Start by making a list of things you’re good at. Think of recent successes, tasks you complete easily, and compliments you get from others. Knowing your strengths is an important career-building tool: it will help you choose the right tasks, projects, and opportunities to take on.
Now the flipside: make a list of things that you think you need to work on. Think of feedback provided in workplace assessments or by coworkers, and the tasks you struggle with or that frustrate you. Remember, no one is perfect. Everyone has at least a few skills they need to work on, but people committed to growth don’t ignore them: they make a plan and address them.
Take a hard look at your soft skills
Soft skills are the non-industry-specific traits that are pivotal to success in any workplace. They include leadership, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. They’re important to focus on because they’re used constantly and universally. When you’re self-assessing, make sure you’re examining where your soft skills are at. Do you find it easy to lead a meeting? Can you handle conflict well? Are you able to clearly communicate in person and in writing? Do you find it difficult to manage time?
There is a myriad of resources available to help you improve your soft skills. Look for classes or workshops in your community, or online. Check out your local bookstore or library – there are tons of books available on all kinds of soft skills. Crunched for time? Audiobooks and podcasts can let you learn while you’re commuting or exercising.
Grow your industry knowledge
Hard skills are the nitty-gritty technical knowledge necessary for your industry. You should never give up growing your mastery in your field. Today’s world is ever-changing and more complicated than ever – that’s especially true of sales. You can’t grow in your partner role with yesterday’s knowledge.
How can you build and maintain up-to-the-minute industry know-how and skills? Start with the basics: follow industry news and pay attention to what competitors are doing. You may want to consider joining a professional community to network with like-minded people and be in-the-know about industry events. Make it a point to attend conferences, workshops, and symposiums. Want to take it a step further? It’s never a bad idea to return to the classroom, whether to pursue a part-time degree program or complete a simple short course. There are many options, both on-campus or online.
Guide your growth with goals
Develop a growth plan for yourself. Start by identifying end goals: where do you want to see yourself a year from now? Five years from now? Goals can be big, like a promotion, or small, like managing a meeting with no jitters. They’re valid no matter the size.
Once you’ve established your end goals, create a list of smaller milestones you’ll have to meet to get there, and an action plan for each. Working toward goals can be overwhelming, but breaking up the path into manageable bits makes it a lot less daunting. Plus, it’s satisfying to celebrate small accomplishments along the way. Stay motivated to move forward: growth doesn’t happen if you’re standing still.
- all growth is good growth
- join industry groups to network
- understand your soft skills
- leverage your hard skills