Continuing your professional development with limited budget….
At the last Power and Influence chat with Darren Caveney the subject of CPD was discussed and what to do if you have no budget. For the first seven years of my IC career I worked in teams where the training budget was minimal which meant I had to get fairly creative with my professional development.
Before I go into the top tips, I know CPD is sometimes seen as a nice to have or a nice to do activity and it often falls down the list when we have a busy job/life. But please remember that if you want to stay ahead of the game and be the best you can possibly be in your industry then CPD is non-negotiable. I have met several people who refuse to engage in professional development and they are stuck in a rut. They’ve not progressed as individuals and they are in an industry or a job they dislike. Even if you don’t want to progress and you are happy as you are, for you to build yourself as a trusted advisor or a trusted source of information in your organisation (or as a freelancer) you need to understand what is happening in the industry. A CEO or a senior director is never going to take your ‘gut feeling’ over hard evidence, data or experience.
If you are struggling with time then speak to your line manager and negotiate some time through work. They may not be able to give you money for a course but if you can share your learning and you can prove how the event/webinar etc will help you in your job then I can guarantee that 99% of the time they will support you with time back.
I know budget can be a hindrance so I hope these following tips and advice give you some help to keep your CPD active:
There is a multitude of free resources available online. From blogs, podcasts, articles and videos, you can almost learn an entire trade without leaving your office or home. One of the first things I did was seek out blogs related to communications and I read them every week without fail. One of the first blogs, which you won’t be surprised about was of course AllThingsIC which is owned by Rachel Miller. I started reading Rachel’s blog back in 2009 and I was hooked. Since then there have been a whole array of useful and insightful blogs that I have on my reading list. Here are some of my currentfavourites:
Recently there has also been an influx of IC podcasts. I love podcasts as it’s such an easy listen when I’m driving or doing work around the house. Here are a few that I love at the moment:
• The FIR Podcast: https://firpodcastnetwork.com/for-immediate-release/
• The C Suite Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/thecsuitepodcasts
• Peppermint Fish: https://peppermintfish.com/be-a-bigger-fish
I really struggle to read business books cover to cover as normally when I sit down to read it’s some sort of thriller or an easy beach read. But for the past few years I’ve really embraced audio books. I LOVE them. I definitely take in more things when someone is talking to me and I can really emerge myself in the book especially when I’m driving or going on a long train journey somewhere. I have an audible subscription but there are some apps where you can borrow audio books for free, you can use Overdrive to find out which libraries are in the scheme. If you’re in Manchester you can download Borrowbox. There's also #ICBookClub via CIPR inside that you can take part in, every book you read as part of this club you can gain 10CPD points.
I’m known as a bit of networking queen in my friendship group as I’m always out and about at various events or meeting someone for a coffee/tea. I genuinely love meeting people and I could chat about comms all day. When I first started out in IC there were not many events in the North West and those that did exist were a bit expensive. So, instead of comms events I went along to business networking events. These were brilliant as I met people from all walks of life and it gave me an opportunity to practice my networking skills. These business events were completely free, took place after work and were normally quite central at some fancy bar so I didn’t have to spend a fortune on travel.
These days there are quite a few events taking place and you can generally find out where by doing a quick search on the internet. If there isn’t anything that you fancy going to, then there is nothing stopping you creating your own event. I’ve recently started The Comms Hive, where I’m going to be holding small dinner based networking events for senior level comms people as I felt this was missing in the North West (if you’re interested drop me a Twitter DM @thecommshive).
As well as these face-to-face networking events I use social media quite a lot for virtual networking. Without Twitter or Linkedin I can almost guarantee I would not have had the opportunities I’ve had so far in my life. These platforms opened doors and removed barriers which have allowed me to develop further.
Not only is it a great platform for connecting with othersbut I’ve come across some really interesting reports and articles that I never would have seen if someone hadn’t shared. I know some people find it exhausting or full of trolls and hate but it’s dependent on how you use it and what you use it for. I surround myself with people I admire or I find really interesting and I refuse to engage in anything political or religious.
There are lots of comms pros you can follow on twitter just do a quick search under comms or internal commsand you’ll see a full list. I also look at who other people are following as sometimes their list can uncover some gems.
Speaking at events
If you want to go along to an event but it's too expensive try to see if there is an opportunity to speak or get involved in the planning in some way. Most organisers will appreciate the support, especially if they have a small team. Though please don't volunteer to help and then do limited amount of work or a shoddy presentation. It won't do you or your credibility any good.
Join a professional body
Now there is a cost involved in this but the return is worth every penny. For a price of a cup of coffee a day I gained access to a whole host of resources from skills guides to webinars covering a range of subjects. Most of these guides don’t incur any additional charge and there are literally 100s of them on the databases..
The Open University offer some amazing free courses via OpenLearn. They have a handful of communication courses which are great but there are a whole host of other disciplines that have really helped me in my role such as ‘Introducing corporate finance’ and ‘Implementing the project’. There are also free courses on Brexit, learn to code for data analysis, how to become an entrepreneur – the list is endless. They are fantastic and I genuinely can’t believe they are completely free of charge. You can find out more here: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/
I hope these have been helpful there are so many other fabulous ways and various free resources but there’s real a danger this blog could turn into a novel!
What top tips do you have for low cost or no budget training for professional development? Let me know below or tweet me @advita_p.