Continued learning has always been a critical component of my professional success. I recommend that everyone, no matter what career path you’ve taken, make self-improvement an integral part of your professional development. With the amount of content available online today, barriers to continued learning have been virtually eliminated. I wanted to share a few of my favorite resources that I’ve come across in my efforts to continually improve my professional standing and enhance skills, add new competencies and generally improve the value I add to an organization. These free business resources are great for both you as a professional and to help enhance your business or the business you support.
HubSpot Learning Academy
I love this one. The Hubspot Academy. There are so many excellent training videos here to help you with a variety of business and marketing efforts, and the best part is that you don’t have to be a HubSpot customer to access them. You simply setup a free account, login and begin learning. The programs are broken up into tracks, which you complete by watching a series of videos and taking quizzes to ensure the content sinks in. Samples of the types of tracks you can follow include:
- Business Blogging Strategy: Attracting and Monetizing an Audience Through Content
- Measuring Brand Engagement and Emotional Connection
- Sales Manager Training: Strategies for Developing a Successful Modern Sales
- Lead Management: Segmentation, Nurturing, and Lead Qualification
- SEO Training Course: Building Sustainable Traffic for Business Growth
Whether you’re looking to improve your website, build a better connection with your target audience, or enhance your sales efforts, there is something here for you. Tracks typically contain over an hour of content, so the learning is in depth and can really benefit you and your team.
65 Free (or close to free) Courses
Continuing on the theme of free courses, this is an article I came across on Inc.com. Higher education is finding it more and more difficult to compete and stay profitable in today’s market, especially with the emerging threat of free online learning options (like the HubSpot option above). In attempt to face this challenge, universities are beginning to offer free courses themselves. Would-be students are able to take a course and get all the content for free. To receive the certificate, you’ll often have to pay, but if that’s not your goal, then the learning is free. Here are some course options from well-respected universities highlighted in the article:
- Building a Toolkit for Your Sales Process from Northwestern University
- Market Segmentation Analysis from University of Queensland
- Social and Digital Media Analytics from Purdue University
- Discover the Leader in You: Six Questions to Ask Yourself from Austin Peay State University
- Applied Scrum for Project Management from University System of Maryland
This is a great way for universities to be more competitive in an increasingly challenging market. It also helps them to introduce larger programs to prospective students by providing a sample. This is a core component of content marketing. Make a connection with your audience by offering them high-value content for free. As you offer your audience free material that’s of value to them in some way, you build lasting relationships that lead toward converted, loyal customers.
Legal Insights and Downloads
The Saxton & Stump website and other similar sites offer tons of great content to help businesses grow and thrive. Site visitors have access to valuable legal insights to help their businesses and help themselves as professionals. The content comes in the form of articles, infographics, and downloadable documents.
One example of the content available for free on this site is the following IP self-audit checklist. You can really impress your employer by helping them uncover and protect their intellectual property. Whether you own or play a supporting role within a business, understanding how to protect the IP that exists can be a hugely valuable contribution. The first step is understanding what intellectual property you actually have within your organization and what steps you’ve taken (or not taken) to protect it. This checklist is a great resource to help you get started:
- (Downloadable PDF) Self-Audit Checklist: How to know if you need Intellectual Property legal support
Another great piece on the site is this downloadable PDF that highlights important legal considerations when starting a business.
Understanding the legal ins and outs of running a business can help businesses grow, while also protecting them from running into costly legal battles. Keeping tabs on this type of content can help you bring valuable insights to your organization.
(full disclosure: I lead the marketing department at Saxton & Stump)
Business Document Templates
One thing that has really helped put HubSpot on the map is their willingness to share valuable content for free. That’s why they make this list for the second time. In this particular case, they are giving away free business templates that could be very useful to you in your day-to-day tasks
As a business professional, a typical day might include creating a budget, developing team bios for your website, sending invoices to your customers, or putting together your company newsletter. What do all of these things have in common? They require a formatted document to make the information they contain easily consumable and comprehendible.
Creating templates for the endless variety of business documents necessary to keep an organization running smoothly can be a long, tedious undertaking. HubSpot has made that easy with these free templates. Samples of the types of templates available include:
- Company newsletter templates
- Email templates
- Social media templates
- Invoice templates
- Sales training templates
- Budget templates
- Webinar checklist templates
- Editorial calendar templates
This group of free templates can save you and your team hours of time putting together these documents. Start here and then search the web. HubSpot isn’t the only company offering free templates. If you run a few searches, there’s a good chance you’ll never have to create another template from scratch for the remainder of your career, no matter what the content might be.
If you are not active on LinkedIn, you are truly missing out on one of the most valuable resources available to business professionals. Unfortunately, many business professionals put LinkedIn in the general category of social media, thus they shy away from using it and miss out on the value. Let’s get one thing straight. LinkedIn is not Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other popular sites that collectively make up the world of social media. It has become a place where users can really grow and thrive professionally and boost their career potential. Just a few of the great things LinkedIn offers to its users include:
- Connecting with employers
- Building your professional network
- Enhancing your personal brand
- Continued learning
- Positioning your company
- Recruiting team members
- Thought leadership
I could really go on and on about the value LinkedIn offers to business professionals. If you are still not sold on the value of this platform, shoot me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s chat. Be prepared, however, to be convinced of the value LinkedIn adds to your career potential.
So, there you go. No more excuses for not advancing your career. Each day, more and more great content is made available online. Start with the resources above, but I encourage you to continue searching and you’ll never run out of material. Oh, and might I recommend staying up-to-date with my blog for more business and marketing advice? Everything here is free as well.
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