If we’ve learned anything from living through a pandemic, it’s that we are resilient. We have what it takes to adapt and grow, even if the process is uncomfortable. For working professionals, this pandemic has brought on countless challenges. We’ve had to learn how to work from home while also managing our families. We’ve missed out on networking events and happy hours with our coworkers. We’ve had to figure out how to attract and retain clients during a time when everyone’s livelihood seems uncertain.
The good news is, we’re still here. And if you haven’t used the past few months to take charge of your professional growth, now is the time to do it! There’s no time like the present to bone up on business skills, reach out to your network, and find a coach or accountability partner. So let’s get started!
- Bone up on your business skills – One of the perks of living in this day and age is having the ability to access a ton of educational resources! If you have a question, someone has an answer. If you don’t know how to do something, you can easily find tutorials to walk you through the process. Even the most skilled professional can benefit from learning something new. How well do you navigate technology such as Microsoft Suite or G Suite, Mailchimp, Hubspot, etc? When was the last time you practiced public speaking? Do you know how to best attract clients to your website? Have you tried any new methods of brainstorming or developing ideas? Websites such as Skillshare, Lynda, Career Contessa, and LinkedIn are great resources for professional growth.
- Reach out to your network – You likely haven’t been to a networking event in months. Thankfully, you can reach out to people from the safety of your own home! Don’t fret about the many people you haven’t had the opportunity to meet and network with, and instead focus on the people who are already in your network. Shoot an e-mail (or go the extra mile and send a written note) letting your friends and colleagues know that you’re thinking of them and would love to offer your services. Include a line about how much you’d appreciate if they’d pass your name along to others. Check out this article for things to keep in mind when reaching out to your network.
- Find a coach or accountability partner – If you want to really prioritize your professional growth, don’t try to go at it alone! Instead, invest in a business coach. A business coach offers an unbiased opinion, accountability, and clarity. Your coaching will be tailored specifically to your needs. Are you looking for advice on how to balance your new side gig with your full-time job? Are you stuck in your career and unsure how to move forward? Are you experiencing imposter syndrome or burnout? A business coach will provide a listening ear and helpful input.
If your budget can’t include a coach right now, reach out to someone you admire and ask if he or she would like to have an accountability partnership.
You’re ready to gain new skills or hone your craft in a group setting. The question is, should you sign up for a workshop or a retreat? While they both involve an element of learning, workshops and retreats are quite different types of events. Let’s take a look at what each event type involves, who they benefit, and how to decide between the two.
What is a Workshop?
A workshop is designed for a small group of people to hone specific skills in a relatively short amount of time. They can be held virtually or in-person. The skills learned often relate to a particular field or craft, such as marketing, writing, or personal finances. Since workshops are designed for teacher to student learning, there is often little time for socialization. Lastly, while they can range from a few hours to a weekend commitment, workshops are one-time events.
The Benefits of Attending a Workshop
You can think of a workshop as a quick crash course taught by an expert. If you desire to increase your knowledge on a subject, but you don’t have the time or money to spend on a lengthy course, a workshop is a great option for you. You’ll be challenged to think outside the box and leave with practical action steps.
What is a Retreat?
According to Merriam-Webster, a retreat is “a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.” Retreats are in-person events and last for at least one day, but can be as long as a weekend or even one to two weeks! Most retreats offer some form of instruction, while also including free time for reflection, socializing, or practicing a craft (i.e. writing, knitting, or yoga).
The Benefits of Attending a Retreat
Stepping away from your daily life to reconnect with yourself and/or nature provides a boost to your mental health. Retreat settings tend to be conducive to creativity and reflection. You also have the benefit of growing alongside your fellow participants and are given the opportunity to deepen relationships with others.
Should I Attend a Workshop or a Retreat?
The main difference between the two types of events is that workshops are focused on learning or honing a specific skill, and retreats tend to focus on spiritual or personal growth. If you’re looking to fill a notebook with helpful suggestions and action steps, check out a workshop. Remember, workshops aren’t designed for networking or peer interaction. If you long for the time and space to focus on creative pursuits or unplug from the grind, look for a retreat to attend! You’ll enjoy learning from a facilitator or coach while also having plenty of time to connect with others and yourself.
Join the Wholistic Women community on a retreat to Sedona, AZ!
Businesses all over the world are learning to make adjustments due to coronavirus. If you find yourself in the position of desiring growth but don’t know what the next step looks like, find comfort in knowing you’re not alone! Now is a great time to join forces with other entrepreneurs and support one another’s success through group coaching. Group coaching is a coach-facilitated meeting (in-person or virtual) where people with similar goals brainstorm ideas and offer advice to another. Here are X Ways group coaching can help you grow your business:
- Receive feedback on your mission statement and services – Group coaching offers a safe place to work on communicating your business’s mission and services. Whether you’ve owned your business for six months or six years, effectively communicating your work to others is always a skill worth perfecting! Toss around ideas for re-wording your mission statement or adding new services during your group coaching conversation. Keep a notebook handy to record the feedback you receive.
- Learn new business tools – Are you using Slack, Hubspot, GSuite, Plann, Trello, or MailChimp? Did your eyes just glaze over a little bit? If one of your goals is related to better organization, client management, or communication, take advantage of the expertise of your group coaching peers. Plus, you’ll not only hear first-hand recommendations, but you’ll also receive the benefit of accountability!
- Enjoy a network of support – Making friends with other business owners is a major perk of group coaching. While everyone in the group will have similar goals, you’re likely to learn and grow alongside people of different ages and stages of life. Take time to appreciate the value of their advice and support! Consider teaming up with one or a few of your coaching call peers to create a plan for sharing one another’s services. The more connected you are with other business owners, the more connected you will be to the community as a whole – which in turn will connect you to more potential clients!
- Commit to a strategy – Your group coaching facilitator will help you identify a strategy that you can begin putting into practice to help you reach your goal(s). During the meeting, you’ll be asked to update the group on your progress. The “check in” is a time for making observations, noting successes and challenges, and setting new intentions for the next meeting. Each participant learns, grows, practices, and repeats this process at each coaching session.
- Discover a renewed passion for your business – Group coaching sessions will help you focus your attention on your “why.” Identifying your why offers clarity by bringing to mind what your strong suits are and why you do whatever it is you do. If you’ve felt confused lately, or wonder if you’re missing out on something, the honest and confidential conversations that occur during group coaching will help get you back on track. Knowing you are supported by others is incredibly motivating, and will supply you the motivation and energy you need to move forward.
Are you ready to grow your business with group coaching?
When was the last time you learned a new skill, spoke in front of a group, attended a networking event, or connected with a mentor? If it’s been a while, you may want to consider carving out time to do so. You’ll never regret making the decision to prioritize your professional development. Staying current in your field will keep you in the competition, and learning extra skills will set you apart from the pack. Plus, professional development boosts self-confidence, helps you achieve your goals, and allows you to teach others what you’ve learned.
We understand that 2020 has been a strange year for everyone, especially business owners and employees. However, people are finding creative ways to push past stagnation and further their professional development. Check out these 4 ideas for inspiration:
Attend a Conference
If you’ve ever attended a conference for personal or professional reasons, you know how incredibly impactful the experience can be. You learn from experienced professionals, have opportunities to meet new people, and are guaranteed to leave feeling inspired. Here are two to consider attending this year:
INBOUND 2020 on 9/22 and 9/23 is an event designed to educate and empower people in marketing and sales. The event founders are promising that this year’s digital experience will still incorporate the energy and connectivity that their previously in-person event was known for. You can attend for free, or sign up for their $69 “powerhouse” pass for premium access to content and extra perks.
The Massachusetts Conference for Women on 12/10 is a one-day event that, in the past, has sold out to over 10,000 attendees! The retreat is virtual this year, and attendees will hear from two keynote speakers, have the opportunity to choose 3 of 12 breakout sessions on the day of the conference, coordinated networking, and access to a virtual exhibit hall and bookstore. All 12 breakout sessions will be available for playback for one week following the conference. Early bird tickets are $125 per person and will be available June 24th.
Invest in Private Coaching
If you like the idea of receiving inspiration and motivation but aren’t sure you’re ready to commit to a conference, consider hiring a business coach! With private coaching, you’re given the opportunity to confidentially share business problems and concerns, and receive feedback and action steps for ways to move forward. Investing in private coaching is a great way to invest in and prioritize your professional development.
Learn Something New
The next time you find yourself with a spare 10-30 minutes at work, fill it with learning a new skill instead of browsing the Internet. Sit back and gain insight on any number of professional development skills, from negotiating to public speaking to updating your social media accounts. Check out Skillshare, Lynda, Career Contessa, and LinkedIn to see the many courses available to entrepreneurs and working professionals! And don’t forget to check to see if your library card gets you free access to business resources!
Gain Insight From Podcasts
Whether you have a steady job or are a starving entrepreneur, you likely appreciate any free resource you can get your hands on! If a conference, coaching, or online course isn’t in your budget right now, plug in your earphones and turn on a business podcast! Here are a few to consider subscribing to:
- The Authentic Audience – As the name suggests, this podcast is all about helping businesses cultivate an authentic relationship with their customers.
- How I Built This – Be inspired by the true stories of how entrepreneurs developed their companies, such as FitBit, Ben&Jerrys, and EventBrite. The NPR-produced podcast is currently running a series on resilience, which provides insight into how businesses have navigated the coronavrius pandemic.
- Goal Digger – Self-made millionaire Jenna Kutcher packs action steps into her podcast, from business hacks, productivity tips, social media strategies and more.
How will you prioritize your professional development this month? We’d love to hear!
Life looks a bit different these days, doesn’t it? Our calendars, once full of happy hours and networking events, now list Zoom call meeting reminders. Social groups are turning to virtual meet-ups — from business masterminds, book clubs, and trivia teams… even Wholistic Woman Retreats!
I’ve been attending Wholistic Woman events in-person for the past 3.5 years, but I hesitated to join in when their events went virtual. I wondered how the meeting would translate online. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by my first virtual evening retreat experience, and thought I’d share some key things I noticed along the way:
- You won’t feel out of the loop if you’re new – I think I would be especially hesitant to join in on a virtual retreat if I had never attended a Wholistic Woman event in the past. I assumed the call would start with a few “hellos” and then move right into the materials, but instead the coaches took time to introduce themselves. I was happy to note that the coaches’ warm and friendly nature (a big part of why I enjoy their events) came through despite the lack of in-person connection. Then, one coach shared the mission of the Wholistic Coaching Coalition. Though I’m very familiar with the group, starting out the call this way helped ground the evening in purpose. Then, at the end of the meeting, they briefly discussed their next event — Know Your Money Story with coach Jane Helm. I was relieved to know that if I were to invite a friend, she wouldn’t feel out of the loop as they made everyone feel included and in-the-know no matter how many events they’ve attended.
- You’ll receive quality teaching and helpful resources – I attended “Radical Love” with coach Kat Middleton, and was curious if listening to one speaker on Zoom would become tedious after a while. While Kat did teach during the majority of our 90-minute call, she used slides to illustrate her message, requested that attendees use the chat tool to answer questions, and lead everyone in a group activity. She also shared several resources that attendees could look more into on their own, should they want to further their knowledge of self-love. If you want to be able to focus and learn during a virtual meeting, I suggest turning on the “active speaker” setting on Zoom. This will allow you to give your full attention to the speaker. You can easily switch to the “gallery” layout during the portion of the meeting that involves the entire group. Do your part to help the other attendees focus, too! Keep yourself muted (unless told otherwise) and turn your camera off if you need to do anything that could potentially distract the rest of the group.
- You’ll have the opportunity to connect in small groups – If you’ve attended an in-person event with Wholistic Women, you know it’s typical to be split into groups or asked to turn to someone next to you in order to discuss the materials presented. My most-pressing question going into the virtual call was, “How will we have quality conversation about what we’re learning?” Thankfully, Zoom has a feature I wasn’t aware of — separate chat rooms! After being given instructions on what to discuss, the call monitor split up the group and suddenly I went from looking at a grid of 28 people to only two other women. We all turned off our microphones and had a vulnerable conversation about the distorted thought processes we often find ourselves in. Then, we offered one another practical suggestions on how to love ourselves through those thoughts. This relatively short activity was incredibly impactful, and truthfully just as valuable as the in-person conversations I’ve had at previous events.
Needless to say, it was a great event and I’m glad I attended! While I hope it won’t be too long before we can start meeting in-person again, I hope you’ll join us for our next virtual event, Know Your Money Story. Click here to register for this event, happening on June 24.