Professional Development for Consultants: 5 Tips for Staying Relevant

By MBO Partners | August 23, 2022

consultant working at desk

Key Points

Professional development can help you stay ahead of your competition and grow your business.

Adjust your service offerings by keeping current on trends.

Recognizing areas where you can grow and improve is the first step to targeting opportunities for professional development.

As a full-time employee you often have access to classes, coaches, seminars, or learning and development tools from HR to help build skills and credentials. But as an independent contractor, your career development is up to you.  

When you’re juggling the roles of CEO, CFO, marketing manager, and HR director, it can be easy to let professional development slide. Follow these five tips to stay on top of your career growth and remain competitive in your industry.

1. Learn New Skills

Whether you’re looking to refresh your skills, pick up new ones, or earn a new degree or certification, start with what you know. Explore offerings from your alma mater, check out online training courses, or pursue a continuing education or certification program. This is the easiest way to make sure your skills stay relevant and up to date. 

Check out: Boost Your Business by Getting Certified in these 5 Skill Areas 

2. Know Your Weaknesses

Recognizing areas where you can grow and improve is the first step to getting better. Taking note of your weaknesses can help you pinpoint the professional development opportunities that make the most sense for you. For an outside perspective in evaluating what your weaker points may be, reach out to a trusted client, colleague, or mentor for feedback. 

Up next: 8 Ways to Keep Your Knowledge and Skills Current 

3. Continually Seek Out Opportunities

Even if you’re not officially in a “professional development” class that results in a certificate of some kind, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn, grow, and get better at what you do—oftentimes for free. Take a class at a local community college. Sign up for online webinars. Explore how-to tutorials on YouTube. Join industry associations and volunteer for a leadership role. There are many creative ways you can engage in professional development activities. 

Check out: MBO’s on-demand webinars for independent professionals

4. Know Your Strengths

Professional development isn’t all about taking classes and getting certified. If you’re particularly good or experienced at something, share it with the world. Write blogs, submit articles for publication, or teach a class. By exploring different ways to share the knowledge you have, you’ll gain new experience and exposure. 

Try it: How to Choose an Online Professional Development Training Course 

5. Get Educated About Your Business

Keeping current on trends that apply what you do will ensure you are well-versed on the latest news, able to adjust your service offerings to meet industry needs and hold high-level conversations about the latest industry happenings with potential clients. Renew subscriptions to industry publications, sign up for news alerts, go to conferences, read the latest business books, or join relevant LinkedIn groups and contribute to conversations. 

Up next: Boost Your Business by Getting Certified in these 5 Skill Areas 

Not every professional development opportunity has to involve a syllabus. So long as you’re learning something relevant to your business every day, that’s a professional development win. 



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