Your knowledge is the only thing that no one can take away from you – this sentence was drummed into me and my sister by our parents whilst we were growing up.
It wasn’t until I started my career did I truly understand the meaning of that sentence. I realised that in order for me to succeed and to grow in my role I was going to have to put some effort in. Luckily one of my first jobs (if you ignore the terrible data inputting job I had when I left university) was at Manchester Met University. I started off as the Admissions Officer for hospitality courses and then fairly quickly moved into Marketing. It was here I really learnt the true value of Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The marketing manager Katherine was a brilliant advocate for learning and she encouraged me to get my masters in Strategic Marketing so I could secure better opportunities in the future.
After my masters I was hooked on CPD, if I didn’t know how to do something or I felt I needed more confidence in a certain area I looked out for learning opportunities. Every one-to-one I had with my manager I tried to ensure that I had some time to talk about development and where they felt I needed some improvement. I started to see the impact of the knowledge I gained in my work and the feedback I was getting from leaders and peers was really positive, which encouraged me to keep pushing myself further.
There are many excuses and reasons why people don’t or can’t focus on CPD but if you want to keep on progressing and be seen as a trusted source in your profession then you have no option but to keep on learning. Now we’re approaching the end of the year, there is no better time to think about what you want to achieve in 2019. Below are five tips that will hopefully give you some food for thought and kick-start your learning journey:
- Sign up to a professional membership. This was one investment that I will never regret. Without joining the Chartered Institute of Public Relations I would have not had the opportunity to do the things I’ve done to-date such as getting chartered, being named a Fellow, completing my diploma in Internal Communications and becoming Chair for CIPR Inside. All of this was driven by the support of this membership and the people I met along the way. If you don’t have a professional membership then I urge you to look into it and choose one that works for you as each one is different (if anyone would like a chat about CIPR Inside then drop me a note!). If you’re already a member then make sure you’re putting in what you want to get out. It can make a big difference to your career.
- Find a mentor. I’m a huge advocate of mentors as I’ve seen the benefits they can bring first-hand. So often we’re so busy ‘doing’ that we often forget to sit back and reflect. A mentor can really help you shape your thinking, provide information and knowledge, help you see where you need to improve, give encouragement, help keep you inspired, stimulate personal growth and most importantly they will listen and empower you to make your own decisions and turn them into actions.
- Learn online. Gone are the days where online tutorials only consisted of silly pranks and makeup tutorials. Nowadays more and more people are sharing their insight via various platforms such as podcasts, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and even via Facebook Live. I’ve learnt so much watching some of these experts from how to present effectively to project managing in an agile environment. One of my favourite learning methods is by watching TedTalks as I find them really inspirational. My favourites are:
- Simon Sinek: How great leader inspire action
- Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability
- Amy Cuddy: Your body language may shape who you are
- If you enjoy podcasts then check out the list pulled together by IC Kollectif: https://www.ickollectif.com/podcasts#!
- If reading is your thing, then why not join #ICBookClub, an online book club ran by CIPR Inside, you can find the dates and the latest book here: http://www.ciprinside.co.uk/resources/icbookclub/
- Go local. What’s going on in your local area? Are there any networking groups you can join? I’m a member of a few networking groups in the Northwest. I don’t tend to go to all of them but I try to make an effort to go to at least two a month. They generally take place after work and normally last about an hour or so. I’ve met so many different people at these events and each person has helped me in some way. If there are no networking groups in your area then let CIPR Inside know and we can spread the word, or alternatively why not set your own group up? If you’re struggling then I can guarantee they’ll be others in the same boat.
- Create your own platform. As much as I enjoy a good face-to-face training session or a networking group, I know that sometimes it’s not always possible to attend due to budget issues or general logistics. One way to keep on learning and expanding your network is by creating your own platform, whether that’s by writing blogs or creating podcasts. You’ll be surprised by the number of people you connect with and the conversations you can start. I’ve learnt so much by writing my own blog as it really helps you think deeper about some of the subjects you write about. Definitely give it a chance and see what can happen.
Wherever you are in your career it’s never too late to keep on learning and pushing your boundaries. There’s no doubt that you’ll be faced with various barriers or challenges but it’s so important to keep our ideas fresh and our mind active. Not only will it help you in your career development but it can play an important part in your own wellbeing and confidence building. And remember your knowledge is the only thing that no one can take away from you!