Continuous professional development, CPD, is misunderstood and many professionals think it’s a laborious task and they’ll need to spend lots of time doing things on top of their already busy workload.

You’re wrong! Well, kind of. You are most likely already doing CPD but you’re not aware of it because you think it’s something you need to specifically do that’s called a ‘CPD event’ or similar.

CPD is about continuing to learn and although it’s about professional development, the very same principles apply to personal development and I believe there is a real crossover.

I’m sure you’ll agree that we’re always learning in the PR industry, as it’s ever-changing, so many tools to learn how to use and when to use them, new innovations being introduced to help us be better at integrating other disciplines and so on.

CPD needn’t be laborious and it needn’t be something you spend a huge budget on and it should be something that YOU value and recognise is an essential part of your own development.

The most important thing is about learning, progressing and continuing to be able to offer the best solutions to our clients and organisations. You can’t do that if you’re not up-to-speed!

Here are my top tips for CPD:

  1. Plan your goals for six months or a year. I plan mine annually, in-line with what I want to achieve in my career. Don’t choose too many, be realistic. I normally choose three.
  2. Looking at your goals, where is the best and most credible places you can ‘go to’ to learn? Think of webinars, blogs, reports, training sessions and where they might sit. Consider PRCA member area to access many free and some paid activities, who blogs in your field of work that you can learn from and start to formulate your own thoughts, what training is available from PRCA, Chamber of Commerce, any enterprise organisations? There are so many opportunities and all you need to do is take a little bit of time to plan! Also, if you volunteer or deliver talks and presentations, these all count, too.
  3. Once you have your goals, you should map out the above activities to show how you’re going to achieve your goals. It’ll keep you on track. Try using this handy CPD planner I developed to help you. Bullet points are fine, you don’t need screeds of writing.
  4. Then use the planner to keep on track with when you plan to do the activity and when you’ve completed it.
  5. Use a CPD platform to log the goals and your activity, PRCA has one, free to use and CIPR has one for its members.
  6. Most important elements to complete are what you learned from the activity and how you will implement that learning in your work.
  7. Remember to score how many points it’s worth – this varies depending on who’s CPD platform you use.

I’d like to finish by saying that no matter what level you are at in your career, learning is vital. You can never stop learning. In addition, don’t wait for someone to tell you what you should be learning. No-one knows better than you what you want to explore further, deepen your knowledge in or indeed a new direction for your career.

In my opinion CPD should be an essential part of everyone’s work. Continuing to learn can only be a good thing for you and your clients/organisation, right?

Once you get into the swing of it, it’ll be second nature, and you’ll realise how much you’re developing your skills and knowledge.

If you need help to plan your next move please let me know. I’d be happy to help. I’m a CPD cheerleader in case you hadn’t noticed! 😉

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