Continued Professional Development (CPD) is something I've very passionate about, and I frequently see social media messages from people struggling with limited budgets.
In September 2021, I hosted the Institute of Internal Communication's (IoIC) FutureNet event, 'Planning your CPD on a budget'. Here are some of the topics covered and tips to help you:
So, what is CPD?
I think it's helpful to be on the same page about what we mean by CPD. Here's my summary when I get asked:
§You are linking learning and practice – Whether it's learning you've completed from a course, training session or even a podcast, how do you then apply it within your working day?
§Keep your knowledge and skills up to date – It's key for us as communication practitioners to stay up to date on the latest trends and what we need to learn to stay on our A-game.
§Part of your everyday, professional routine – CPD isn't just about completing a course and reviewing a yearly plan, it's about identifying ways each day to learn.
§Accreditation for your knowledge – You'll be surprised at the amount you know from the workplace, so getting recognition through an external body is an excellent way of showcasing your skills as a practitioner.
Why bother with CPD?
Sadly, I've seen this question asked, and it's always disheartening to see. I could go on and on about why you should do CPD, and so here are just a few key reasons.
§Continually identify your professional development needs, not just once a year or during an annual performance review.
§You are putting knowledge into your everyday working life, allowing you to try new things and expand your skills.
§Boost your confidence, whether it's through external recognition or achieving your goals
§Plan that next career goal by taking control of your development and not waiting to be asked.
§Strengthen your professional credibility with peers and colleagues by sharing knowledge, experiences, and networking.
Keep yourself on track
We are all busy people, so it can be hard to keep yourself on track. Here are two ways I've discovered thanks to other professionals. The first is a '30, 60 and 90-day plan' that Jenni Field of Redefining Comms once shared. It's a way of breaking down your objectives and goals into more manageable tasks rather than aiming for a 12-month goal.
On the Calm Edged Rebels podcast, Advita Patel talked about having an 'accountability buddy'. Your buddy could be anyone who will have conversations with you about your progress, encourage you to keep on track and challenge your reasons for not progressing. They will also celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they are, as we can often focus on what we haven't done instead of looking at what we did achieve.
What resources can I use?
There is still the perception that CPD means expensive training courses or memberships. That is not the case, and some of the best learning can be done with no cost! There will be more, but the list below should give you plenty of ideas.
In the workplace opportunities, I've experienced e-learning platforms, job shadowing, secondment, stepping up, mentoring, upskilling through cross-training and in-house networks
There are a host of resources outside the workplace, including podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs, LinkedIn articles, reports, publications, and online forums.
Keep your CPD plan as a working document
Your CPD plan should be an enabler to support your development. There is often a temptation to fill it out, book a course and then leave it in a drawer until your next review.
•Update as you go – if you need to change things, that's ok
•Think of your current role – priorities change, so might your plan
•Keep it simple – it shouldn't be a chore
•Combine objectives – try and make things easy for yourself
•Log your learning – even a simple list at the end of your CPD document helps
•Reflection – if you do something, take time to think about your learnings
For more useful internal communication resources and links, Dan runs Horizon Comms, where you can find more information to support your CPD. Also, don't forget to check out the CPD pages on the IoIC website, including how you can register for their online CPD platform.