CPD – Why bother and my top tips for pain-free CPD

Excuse me while I crow, just a little. In the last week I have completed my CPD points already this year (this is not my usual form for getting my CPD done).

Nine months before the deadline at the end of Feb 2017. I have logged enough points on the CIPR UK CPD system to maintain my accredited status for another year. There we go, I’ve said it, no more boasting.

But who cares?

Well you may not, but I do.

And here’s why doing my CPD is important to me.

Following a path of CPD:

  • Gives me clear learning goals
  • Puts me in charge of my career (how liberating)
  • Helps me future proof my career (I will not be replaced by a robot or app until I’m good and ready or found something I want to do more than communications)
  • Pushes me outside of my comfort zone
  • Allows me to meet new people in the profession, which I find vital as an independent communication practitioner
  • Gives me fresh ideas
  • Provides different perspectives
  • Encourages me to share more
  • Makes me better at what I do
  • Gives me confidence
  • Shows my clients and colleagues I care about my profession (enough to invest my time, energy and money in it)
  • Inspires my colleagues and clients to take my profession seriously too
  • Gives me a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction
  • Puts the fun back into what we do. Learning is fun, and I love it (perhaps that’s just me being a comms geek…)

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This is the fifth year that I’ve done my CPD. I never bothered when I was ‘employed’. I had this ridiculous idea that my employers would support my training and I would learn all I needed from doing the job. I was naïve. I’ve been running my own communication business for nearly six years and when I started out I quickly realised I had the freedom to do what I wanted to do and follow the training path that I wanted to take. So I started attending various events that interested me, in no particularly planned or strategic manner, and I just did a lot of things that I found interesting and relevant to internal and external communication. This was great and worked well to get my CPD points racked up and for me to become accredited in 2014 (and get a certificate! Who doesn’t love a certificate for their wall?).

But this year I have really taken control of my CPD and I’m sure that’s why I’ve got all my points filed already and even have a few over and more events booked to attend later in the year.

 

 

If this has convinced you to have a go too, here are my top tips for pain-free CPD.

Set your goals

Use the CIPR goal setting tool in the CPD dashboard. It may feel a bit like preparing for your appraisals, but this is just for you, no-one else, it’s worth it and it pays off. The list of most popular goals for PR professionals logged in the CIPR CPD goals this year is a useful read for anyone in the business. Two of those top ten are in my list of three as well. It is reassuring that I’m not the only one who wants to be more confident about public speaking and who’s building up the courage to get chartered

Plan for it

I’ve created my own training plan. It sounds grander than it is – it’s basically a spreadsheet showing all the activity I have undertaken, have booked in and would like to do over the year. It includes dates, providers, desired outcome and cost (I have to manage the costs or I would spend all my profits buying books and going to events). I personally like to attend one event a month. That could be a networking event close to home, a small learning event or a conference. Some things are free, some are as little as £15 and I manage the costs closely to take advantage of early bird rates for the big conferences in the calendar.

Choose the activities that work for you and make everything count

The reason I’ve managed to complete my CPD so quickly this year is that I have three big activities that are ongoing during the year – each earning me 20 points a piece. Plus I’ve been to four events – each earning me five points, I’ve completed the online ethics module to earn five points, and I logged three goals before 31 May and earned an extra five points. I’ve got 90 points and need just 60 to retain my accreditation. Not everything is provided by the CIPR. I am a mentor through another organisation and I am receiving business coaching from another group, and two of the four events I’ve attended so far have been local events and not through CIPR. I’ve logged all of these activities. I have three big events booked to attend later this year and will have read some more books to also add to my log.

Log it as you go

I have been strict with myself this year. In the past I’ve been frantically logging the points at the last-minute in February while I’m also really busy working on the #insidestory awards – it becomes a chore and can be avoided. So logging the points on the CPD system as I do them makes sense and is a lot less stressful. And let’s face it, the stuff we do for ourselves is always pushed down the priorities when ‘work’ work needs to be done. I’ve taken advantage of some quieter times logging everything I had planned into the CPD system. That way I just have to add the ‘what I have learned’ content when I’ve attended the events and it’s done.

Token reward

‘Token reward’ is a catch phrase in our house, it started back in our uni days when I met my husband who was studying psychology and I was studying PR. For every bit of success, we rewarded ourselves – cheap rewards of course, but small reminders that we were heading in the right direction. A few years on and my rewards are a bit different, but each time I’ve done the work for my CPD I get a virtual pat on the back by seeing my points tot up and reward myself with anything from a new book to a walk with the dog – life’s very different these days. My rewards scale up according to the size of the project and significance of the achievement.

I hope these are helpful. Do you have any tricks that help you to get your CPD done each year? Drop me a email and I’ll add them to the list.

If you haven’t set your goals on the CPD dashboard yet, go do it now before 31 May and get your extra five points to start your CPD year and help you to gain or retain your accredited practitioner status.

If I can do it, you can. Good luck.

 

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