Obviously, if you want something, you need to ask for it. And when it comes to asking your employer to pay for your continuing professional development, a little bit of advance planning will go a long way.
It may seem obvious that professional development is important for career growth. And, from the employer’s perspective, what’s not to like about your staff expanding their knowledge and know-how?
The initiative shown by making the request to have your employer cover the cost of a course makes you a more valuable employee in itself …in fact, it elevates you to the status of colleague.
But you still need to make a solid case!
Do Your Research
Before you even approach your employer about the idea of funding your professional development, it's important to do your homework. Know exactly what conference or course you want to take, and be able to speak confidently about why it would benefit both you and the company. The more specific you can be, the better.
Look for opportunities that align with your professional career path, your current responsibilities, and your ultimate goals. Tie them back to how it will help you grow your skill set and expand your abilities which will naturally help the business.
Professional development may take time away from your daily responsibilities, so you'll want to reassure your supervisor that your accountabilities will be covered while you’re away. Make it obvious that you recognize the potential impact of you being away and how you’ve got that covered.
Make a Case for the ROI of Your Professional Development
Once you've done your research, it's time to start making a case for why investing in your professional development is a wise decision from a business standpoint.
First, ensure you know the costs. Beyond the tuition for the course, there may be transportation or accommodation expenses that you’re asking your employer to cover. Knowing the required budget is a prerequisite to demonstrating you have the maturity to understand the cost and the benefits.
As for the benefits: What kinds of skills will you learn that could help improve your performance at work? How will this new knowledge benefit the company as a whole?
Create a concise action plan that includes what you’re planning to get out of the course and how you’re planning to incorporate what you’ll learn into you or your team's work.
Here are a few sentence starters to get your persuasive juices flowing:
This training will help me improve by…
This knowledge will be valuable to our team because…
Using this new skillset will make a difference for the company by…
The networking opportunities will be advantageous because…
If you can show that there's a clear return on investment, you’re likely to get your employer on board.
Offer to Share Your Knowledge
Make it clear that once you've attended the conference or taken the course, your plan is to share the key takeaways that you've learned with your colleagues.
Additionally, make it clear you plan to propose actions and business optimizations based on the takeaways. This isn’t just knowledge for knowledge’s sake. You’re planning to return with actionable insights for your whole crew.
This is a great way to show that you're invested in the company's success and that you're willing to give back. Not to mention, sharing your knowledge and supporting the growth of your coworkers builds goodwill – which is always a bonus.
Be Politely Persistent
If your employer says no at first, don't give up. Reiterate why this professional development opportunity is important to you, how it will benefit the company, and why it is a good investment.
If your employer says “yes,” send a recap email that includes conference dates, budget, payment deadline, and action plan. If you don’t hear back, follow up graciously to ensure deadlines are met.
Say Thank You and Follow Through
Once you've gotten the green light to attend the conference or take the course, show your appreciation. A simple thank you note goes a long way in showing that you're grateful for the opportunity – and that you'll make the most of it!
While attending the training, take notes and develop your key takeaway points immediately afterward. Remember to consider what actions you’ll recommend based on the takeaways, why they’re important to your organization, and how they’ll improve your work.
Make sure you follow through with your promise to share your knowledge!
Bonus Tips for Your Ongoing Professional Development:
- Ensure you get the most out of the conference or course by networking in addition to attending sessions.
- Join online groups for event attendees and consider connecting with relevant new contacts and speakers on LinkedIn.
- Schedule a block of time the following quarter to revisit your takeaways and action plan. Have you implemented this new knowledge? What difference has it made to your professional growth and to your company?
- You might even consider sending your boss a follow-up report on the ROI.
Continue Your Professional Development with Digital Marketing Skills!
Looking for new ways to continue your education and invest in your professional development at Social Media Pro?
You'll want to get started with our core Social Media Management training, which includes the opportunity to take the exam to become a Certified Social Media Manager.
Once inside the training area, you’ll gain immediate access to 20 Training Modules. Each module contains the action guides and the templates you need to move forward. Along with each module, you’ll also get our entire Document Template Library with downloadable business resources and templates and summaries of the most important points.
Our core Social Media Manager Pro training is where most of our students begin their journey into social media management. In 30 days, most of our students have landed their first client and we're there to support them every step of the way. Get started here.