Josh Merkin|Aug 6, 2012

For most of us working parents, reality is about to set in: There are just two weeks to go before school starts again. As a parent of five, I’m not going to lie—it’s stressful. The end of summer isn’t just for kids. As school schedules get back to normal, so do work schedules.

Every summer, most of us enjoy a bit of a reprieve from the heavy grind of work as clients, coworkers and prospects take their own summer vacations and things in general slow down around the office.  This lull is a great time for individuals to work/strategize on their own professional development plans, which tend to get pushed aside throughout the year as we devote our attention to more pressing needs.

So what have you done this summer?  If you answer is nothing, that’s OK because there is still an entire two weeks (maybe a little more if you count Labor Day as the official restart of the “work” season) to knock some items off your personal development bucket list.

Remember, even little plans can go a long way. Below are a few suggestions, accompanied by own bragging rights, I mean, accomplishments.

Update social media profiles:

For some people, social media is a way of life and their profiles are perfect. For others (including yours truly), this is something that we mean to get to, but just doesn’t happen.

Spend a little time going through the profiles you have to reassess the information you have on there and also decide which social media channel is the best use of your time. Ask yourself: Did you join any new groups? Did you get any new certifications? Are you speaking at an upcoming conference?

If you have Facebook page with 27 pending friend requests and you haven’t visited it since September of last year, perhaps Facebook isn’t for you and instead you should be focusing on LinkedIn. I recently updated my LinkedIn profile with new skills and have been more diligent in sharing articles of interest with my contacts.

Read a book:

We all have one or two books that managers, coworkers or clients have encouraged us to read so we can become better at our jobs or more informed. Find one, devote a few days and knock it off your list. Have some Post-It notes nearby so you can mark the sections that were especially interesting/relevant to you, which will make it easier to revisit later.

rbb’s client, Kaufman, Rossin, hosted a seminar a few weeks back and gave out copies of a book called “Relevant Selling” by Jayne L. Smith. The premise of her book is that most businesses do not do a good job selling their company’s strengths because they don’t really know what their customers are looking for.  They use clichés like “family owned”, “best customer service”, or “lowest cost” because they think this is what will appeal to clients/prospects, but ultimately business owners are way off the mark. I recommend this quick read which provides valuable insight into how to use surveys to grow your business and strengthen your sales/marketing messages.

Write a blog post:

I have always struggled with coming up with ideas for blog posts, but I finally did come up with an idea. If you are reading this line, you have nearly read my entire post, so it can’t be that bad.

Blogs don’t have to be painful or long. Find something topical in the news (Olympics, Chik-Fil-A) or consider something that is going on in your own personal life like your best friend’s wedding and think about how it impacts or correlates with the work that you do on a daily basis.

If you or your company doesn’t have a blog, find a client or colleague and ask if you can write a guest post for their blog. rbb is always interested in hearing good ideas from guest contributors.

Spend some time socializing with your coworkers:

How well do you know the people you work with? Granted, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone in your office, but spending some extra time together at lunch, dinner or happy hour with your coworkers can go a long way in improving your work experience.

As my coworkers read this, I would imagine they are making faces because I am notorious for keeping to myself and not socializing, which is certainly something I need to get better at. However, I did recently find myself singing (that is being very kind) karaoke on a Wednesday night with many people from the rbb office. It was a fantastic evening with a lot of laughs and I was happy and appreciative to have had the opportunity to spend time with them outside of our normal circumstances.

The clock is ticking on your summer, but it’s not too late yet. Get up and get motivated before the school bell rings.


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