Inspiring ideas to boost your professional development

November 8th, 2017

We all know professional development is important, but when you barely have time to make a cup of tea most days, let alone drink it, how can you find the time (and budget) to invest in yourself? Never fear, Alive are here to give you some ideas.…

Continuing professional development (CPD) is about taking a holistic view of your career and what skills and knowledge you need to ensure you evolve with the profession.

It’s also one of the ways we can prove to stakeholders that internal communication is a function that takes itself seriously, one that prides itself on high standards and ethical codes of conduct. It means that you personally hold yourself to a higher standard set by industry bodies, because you’re passionate about your career and adding measurable value to the organisations you work for.

That all sounds great, doesn’t it? But in practice, where on earth will you find the time and budget, on top of the day job and a busy personal life?

The good news is that not all CPD costs money, and it doesn’t have to involve signing your life away for a year of study. We’ve collated some of the best CPD opportunities available at the moment, to provide some inspiration…

Join an industry body and track your CPD

If you’re serious about demonstrating your passion and commitment to internal communication, join an industry body. There’s the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC), Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) or Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA)

As members of these bodies, you get access to resources, discounts on events and the opportunity to track your CPD. Not only does tracking your progress help you demonstrate your knowledge and skills to others but it’s a great reminder for you on how far you’ve come.

The rest of the suggestions in this blog all count towards CPD, so membership is a great place to start. It means you can track your development and become accredited or chartered if you meet CPD requirements.

Time commitment: ongoing
Budget: ££

Volunteer

Sometimes the skills you need to develop are best learnt by doing, so why not volunteer? If for example you want to be better at public speaking, find out when upcoming conferences are and approach the organisers with an idea. If you want to get better at budgeting, get involved in industry events or committees that often create fantastic output from tight budgets.

Many industry bodies are heavily supported by volunteers. The internal comms arm of CIPR, for example has a committee, completely run by volunteer internal communicators who believe they get as much out of being a committee member as they put in. So, it’s another great option for people keen to get more involved in the industry.

Time commitment: Activity dependent, but often an hour a week
Budget: 0

Professional qualifications

Qualifications ensure we have the knowledge and skills to do our job, but they also give us confidence in our own abilities, and by extension, instil faith in our stakeholders. We often know what’s right but having the theory and evidence to back that up can be invaluable. Most of the industry bodies will offer a choice of professional qualifications, depending on what stage you’re at in your career.

Time commitment: six months to a year.
Budget: £££

Workshops

If you’re looking to brush up on a particular skill or just need to refresh your knowledge, short workshops might be the answer. From a one-day masterclass with All Things IC to the many short courses and workshops run by the IoIC or a breakfast seminar hosted by the many talented agencies we have in our industry. They’re a great ways to dip into a topic of particular interest and meet likeminded professionals – remember you can often learn as much from your peers as you can from the person leading the course.

Time commitment: From one hour to a day.
Budget: ££

Read

Blogs, books, reports, white papers – there are so many resources available to us. Whether you’re looking to brush up on your general IC theory, or looking for something more specific, chances are someone will have written about it.

Why not join CIPR Inside’s IC book club? You’ll discover books you might not have been aware of and get to discuss them with some of the brightest minds in the industry on Twitter.

And take a look at our Elements of IC – it’s full of resources that cover pretty much any aspect of internal communication you can think of. And if you do think something’s missing, let us know!

Time commitment: Depends how quickly you read!
Budget: £ (the cost of a book but most blogs and reports will be free)

Network

Meeting industry peers and sharing experiences and learnings is an invaluable way to boost your knowledge and to inspire new ideas and solutions to challenges. It’s also a great way to remember that you’re not alone, and chances are someone else has faced the challenges you have before and may have some great advice to share. Plus, you’ll also have a wealth of experience that will benefit others.

There are lots of brilliant networking events out there, and if there isn’t one near you, why not start one? All you need is a pub, and to spend a bit of time marketing it.

Time commitment: A couple of hours
Budget: £ 

Attend a conference

Conferences do mean budget and time out of the office, but if you want to be at the top of your game, they’re a great way to hear from industry experts, discover upcoming trends and network with peers. Having a day away from the office can also be great to clear your head, be inspired and gain some new perspective.

And don’t forget, there are lots of breakfast seminars and evening events you can attend if you really can’t take a full day out of the office.

Time commitment: One to two days
Budget: ££ 

Watch a webinar or listen to a podcast

There are lots of webinars and podcasts in our industry that you can watch, listen and learn from on a lunch break. Short, bite-sized sessions that ensure you’re up to date with some of the most high-profile topics of the day. Chuck Gose’s ICology, or Poppulo’s regular webinars are good places to start.

Time commitment: An hour
Budget: 0

Get on social media

Gone are the days when networking had to be face to face. Twitter and LinkedIn especially are great ways to share content, ask questions, spot events, take part in discussions, read latest insights.

If you’re new to social media, try #commschat on Twitter every Monday evening at 8pm where a different topic is discussed every week – it’s a great way to join a discussion with knowledgeable and lovely people.

Time commitment: Completely up to you
Budget: 0

Mentor

Whether you are the mentor or are being mentored, it’s a brilliant way of developing yourself. Realising you have wisdom to impart provides confidence and acknowledging there’s always more to learn can be empowering. Check out the IoIC’s mentoring programme that matches prospective mentors and mentees.

Time commitment: Ad hoc
Budget: 0

So, there you have it, CPD opportunities are everywhere, and they don’t have to involve selling a kidney or building a time turner. So, what are you waiting for?

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“Helen’s passion for her profession shines through very clearly and she manages to combine her deep knowledge of internal communications with a mix of pragmatism and fresh thinking. She is a delight to work with and has a high level of integrity.”

Richard Fitzmaurice, TMF Group