As an athlete development professional, you are challenged daily to meet the demands of your job. That means you must not only have the appropriate education and experience to be successful in your position but, like the athletes you develop, you must continuously work to get better and stay on top of your game.

I told attendees at the Women in Athlete Development Symposium & Networking Event in April that sometimes you have to invest in (pay for) your own development. Don’t wait for your employer to do it. It’s your career, it’s your future!

But how do you obtain the skills and experiences you need to stay on top of your profession? There are several professional development activities that I’ve engaged in over the years that benefitted me greatly in my work with athletes. They include presenting at professional conferences, writing and taking and teaching classes. Each experience sharpened my skill set, expanded my knowledge and network and increased my confidence.

Presenting at conferences develops research and communication skills. It also provides opportunities to share your knowledge, test new ideas, gather feedback from your peers and industry leaders and increase your visibility.

Publishing an article, newsletter, blog, book chapter, etc., is an excellent way to sharpen your writing skills and share information on topics that interest you. Additionally, writing demonstrates your ability to think critically, integrate information across genres and share best practices and research in your industry.

Taking and teaching a class have been two of my most rewarding professional development activities. During my transition from the NBA, I took a branding class that taught me how to identify my mission, vision and purpose (MVP) and own my value. Teaching a women leadership in sports course at Michigan State allows me to share my knowledge, experiences and love of sports with tomorrow’s sports business leaders.

Additional benefits of professional development include increasing your opportunities for promotion, advancement and recognition and preparation for your next career move. Participating in professional development activities also sets an example for the athletes you are seeking to engage, inspire and educate to be the best they can be.

What are YOU doing to promote your personal and professional growth? What suggestions do you have for athlete development professionals? Please share your thoughts and experiences below and whether you think this information is helpful. Also, check out the resources page of the website for organizations that provide education, training and resources that support athlete development professionals.

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