Never stop learning’ was the answer Lou Robinson gave in her #questionofcomms profile about the best advice she’s received as an IC pro.

What does that look like? How can you keep learning?

I’m delighted that Lou, who is Global Internal Comms Lead at Costa, is back with a guest post to reveal how communicators can make this a reality.

Whether you’ve been working in comms for a few weeks or a few decades, there’s always something to learn. What do you do?

Here are some of the ways I learn about comms:

Talk to my peers, clients and people in my network.
Ask questions online e.g. @TheICCrowd, @AllthingsIC. Take part in @commschat
Listen to podcasts e.g. FIR, ICology, C-Suite.
Watch TED talks.
Read blogs.
Be an active member of professional bodies.
Participate in CPD schemes.
Judge industry awards.
Contribute to books.
Work Out Loud by writing the All Things IC blog.
Read comms books and journals.
Subscribe to comms publications.
Read case studies and award entries.

I’ll hand you over to Lou…

CPD – a journey of discovery

Many years ago I had a conversation with someone who told me huffily that they knew everything there was to know about work, therefore there was no need for them to go on some executive training that they’d been invited to.

I’m now the same age as that person (42 – obviously with the answers to life, the universe and everything) and I’m only just scratching the surface…

In December 2016 I contacted Rachel to get her advice about kick-starting my Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and widening my network.

I’d spent the last 18 months focusing on running my own business and transitioning from employee to consultant. Even with great support at home and an active client-base, I’d been ‘head-down’ in the weeds, surviving through that transitional ‘start-up’ period.

It’s both exciting and terrifying in equal measure and I didn’t have any head-space for ‘formal learning’.

In my head I equate this style of learning as ‘a chore on top of work which might also involve having to speak to people I don’t know’, which is probably why I’ve not done as much of it as I should do up until now.

Joining professional bodies
On Rachel’s advice I re-joined the CIPR in January this year (other professional bodies are of course available).

Just at that point I read a great blog by Katie Marlow about going for Chartered status, prompting me to think that it would be a great idea to go for.

I market myself on having great knowledge and experience of my discipline, but I’ve not focused on it in a structured way recently and I’d like to prove I’m up there with the best.

As I already have the CIPR Diploma, I just need to get Accredited before I can go for Chartered, which means logging 60 CIPR CPD points in 12 months. First I needed to think through my CPD goals – what to learn and how to stretch myself.

My thought process went like this:

  • Do at least one formal public speaking activity – it terrifies me (therefore I am not good at it) and I’m very much a ‘behind the camera’ person (as many of us are in IC).
  • Progress my learning about digital comms channels – critically important with the world changing so fast and a core skill for internal communicators.
  • Learn more about crisis communications – having started out in the external comms world, I don’t want to silo my knowledge only in the internal space.

I received 5 CPD points for writing my goals up online – happy days! An easy start…

I had a trawl through the CIPR CPD database and found a short publication about crisis comms (another 5 points) and Rachel also sent me her new crisis comms booklet.

This pretty much coincided with United Airlines providing a very timely case study about how not to communicate in a crisis, which whilst it didn’t offer me any points, I read up on avidly.

One of the other benefits of being in the CIPR is that things fall into your lap that you might not have thought about.

The latest ‘Ask the Guru’ about creative thinking took place a couple of weeks’ ago. Not strictly anything to do with my CPD goals but I’m not feeling very creative right now (end of contract tiredness), so hearing Alan Oram’s ideas filled a really interesting Thursday evening (5 points).

Formal learning
Other opportunities are already coming along, showing me that incorporating more formal learning doesn’t have to be either a hassle or an inconvenience (and might actually be fun). They come with the benefit of widening my network as well. I have a couple of industry events in May – one for interims and one for heads of and directors, in conjunction with the launch of VMA’s annual IC survey (5 points each).

A presenting opportunity has also arisen unexpectedly – I’ve been asked to be a guest speaker on the CIPR Diploma course at Bournemouth University in June (10 points).

I’ll be on the lookout for interesting things to speak about from the smileexpo conference on 23 May – a very timely addition to my digital channels learning and I’m super keen to hear more about Facebook at Work deployments in particular (10 points).

(I’m attending too. If you fancy coming to smileexpo, do use The IC Crowd’s discount code to save on tickets – Rachel).

I’m really surprised that within 3-4 months of starting my CPD I will already have completed 40/60 of my points for the year whilst expanding my network, meeting new people, and learning new stuff!

I guess that’s the point of it and it’s turning out to be a lot more enjoyable than I expected.

Post author: Lou Robinson.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Lou, I’m thrilled to see how you have been learning, researching and expanding your network, it was good to see you at the Ask the Guru event the other day.

What do I think?

Continuous Professional Development is important to me. As a Fellow of CIPR and IoIC I’ve signed up to the new Institute of Internal Communication scheme and am an Accredited Practitioner with CIPR.

Next month I am going for my Chartered Status assessment with CIPR as I want to continuously learn and improve.

I’m delighted my All Things IC Masterclasses have been recognised for CPD. I offer discounts for both CIPR and IoIC members to save 20% (and nonprofit organisations) and you can earn 10 points or six hours respectively by attending one of my courses.

You can never learn enough about comms!

Only yesterday I was talking about comms theory while on site with a client. We were talking about how important it is for practitioners to have a good understanding of models and ideas which you can translate into your daily work.

Come and learn with me
I’d love you to join me at a Masterclass. The next one is full (25 May), but there are spaces on 27 June 2017 and the Writing Skills Masterclass on 18 October.

I’m also plotting a new topic and am researching it at the moment, thank you to everyone who has been helping me. Stay tuned for news.

Come and invest a day in your career, boost your skills, meet other practitioners and get answers to your comms conundrums.

I promise you’ll leave inspired, motivated and ready to go back to your workplace and do great things.

I’m currently developing bespoke Masterclasses on behalf of some of my clients, which is a privilege and something I love doing. For example tomorrow I’m working with an NHS trust teaching 100 nurses.

I hope you can join me at a future Masterclass.

Thank you for stopping by,

Rachel

First published on the All Things IC blog 9 May 2017.

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