Have you ever been accepted into a development program that would make a real difference in your life? When you get accepted to a well-structured program, you can learn so many new things and can benefit from the exposure to others in attendance.


Now think, what if you never got accepted into the program?

The latter happened to me a couple of years ago. I had applied to be in a program and was sure I would get in. To my surprise, I didn’t. This was a good thing though because it taught me to rely on myself for development and building connections.

At the end of day, your development is in your own hands. A structured program can help and be an easy way to get information, but it is not the end all be all.

After reading this post, you will know how to make the most of your development opportunities. You will also learn how to start taking the control you need in your life to get yourself to the next level.

Taking the Next Steps in Your Development

First things first, let’s figure out how you can pick up the same skills.

One thing that I do first is look at my place of employment. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help spark some ideas:

  • Are there cross training opportunities? If you haven’t made your interest in learning known, your employer may not know to look at you for opportunities.
  • Does your employer have a formal mentorship program you can enroll in?
  • Does your employer have any internal employee groups that will give you exposure to new skills? I participate in one and have received exposure to public speaking, leadership skills, event planning and more.

The next thing I will do is consider what is available outside of my employer. Here are some ideas:

  • Local community colleges. They will have the most affordable courses and may also offer non-credit classes if that would be a better fit.
  • Local non-profit organizations. Many offer short and affordable trainings focused on leadership, recruitment, diversity, career topics and more.
  • Professional organizations. There are so many niche specific groups that exist and they may offer development opportunities.
  • Online businesses. There are many very skilled people who run workshops, courses or in-person events on a wide variety of topics.

There are so many resources available to get personal and career development. If you can’t enroll in the program you originally had in mind, do some research on the opportunities listed above and figure out what a great next step is.

Presenters Who Make A Difference

Sometimes a training program had a great presenter that was going to be in attendance. They were going to be sharing their knowledge and that was something you were really looking forward to. You were also hoping to meet them if the opportunity was there.

All is not lost in this area either!

The thing to keep in mind though is that they will be going to other events to present and likely have online offerings. Take advantage of these and find a better fit for networking with them.

There is someone that I followed for a while but just couldn’t get into their trainings mostly due to timing and cost.

I kept up with their newsletter and was able to get in on some free trainings they offered on their own. When all the timing and cost pieces did align, I was able to get into one of their training groups (groups can sometimes make the cost come down as well!) and get the attention I was hoping for.

Some people I’ve heard great things about have also shown up as instructors or panelists at some of the resources I mentioned in the prior section. So, keep an eye out!

Sometimes, it also doesn’t hurt to just speak up! One time I missed being able to follow-up with a speaker after their presentation. While networking after the event, I mentioned my missed opportunity to one of the hosts and they were happy to help personally connect me with them. This can be a great opportunity to connect if the speaker is willing and has the time.

Get the Full Benefits of Your Development

At the end of the day, you should be reviewing the materials to get the full benefit. The mistake that many people make is that they attend, listen, maybe take a few notes and then it collects dust on a shelf after that.


This is the wrong way to approach development! Anyone can go somewhere and be inspired for a bit, but the real work and improvement comes after.

Step up your development by planning to review the information you received in your next steps. This can be done in a day or over many days and I encourage you to do any of the recommended activities during this time.

Another helpful thing you can do to continue your growth is researching what others have to say on your topic. See all sides of the topic by paying attention to what other bloggers are writing about it and what other speakers are saying.. This is where I get so much good information and you will too!

Lastly, apply the parts that are relevant to your life. You could have walked away with more to learn, new goals or habits. Set aside some time to figure out how to build this into your life so it doesn’t get swept to the side and forgotten.

Manage Your Development

You won’t always get into the training program that you want to do but you should still pursue growth and figure out a new plan. There isn’t only one way to learn what you need to learn and it’s time to start taking your personal and career development into your own hands.

Once you know where to look for growth opportunities and connections, you’re going to be unstoppable. That kind of control will make it so easy for you to get what you need to move forward in life.

Taking advantage of the benefits offered from your development is also something you shouldn’t push aside. Any type of program will likely have you doing activities, meeting people or researching on your own, so do it. It doesn’t do any good to go get inspired for a couple of hours and not follow through.

Where is one of your favorite places to look for development opportunities? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget, sharing is caring so bring your friends in to the loop too!

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