This week I start back to work properly in 2019, but taking the time during the first few days of the year, to look back at 2018 last week has really shown me how much commitment and effort I've put into developing myself both professionally and personally.
In addition to my day job as both a PR practitioner & lecturer, and a lifestyle blogger, in 2018 I've attended industry events and conferences, hosted a webinar for Vuelio, spoken at the Mojo Nation conference, written for the CIPR Influence online blog, organised the #CIPRNorthernConf, held the elected positions of Vice Chair and Social Media Manager for CIPR North East and organised the #PRideNE awards where I also won an award as Outstanding PR Practitioner in the North East.
CPD takes time and effort but is worth it. I started my Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) CPD after returning to work after maternity leave (at the time being on maternity leave didn't exempt you from having to accrue CPD points - thankfully that has now changed and you can read the CIPR Maternity Leave Package here).
After two years continuous CPD all CIPR members can attain Accredited Practitioner status. This is a status I've now retained for 5 years. But it's much more than just a label and here is why.
1. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
It's all too easy just to keep on doing the same thing all the time. No matter how successful you are at it. However to grow as a person and as a professional then you need to challenge yourself. In 2018 I spoke at a national conference for the very first time with a colleague. Yes it was nerve-wracking, yes it was quite scary. I was named and promoted as a speaker; and that felt really strange but also rewarding; however once I stepped onto the stage the nerves went.
Co-hosting a webinar for Vuelio was both an unnerving and exciting proposition. Not being able to receive any verbal or physical feedback from your audience as you speak really makes you think about what you are saying and doing. I was very glad when it was over but also very glad that I'd done it. My biggest tip is to make sure you are speaking about something you understand well, are passionate about and wiling to debate. The feedback after both sessions whether on stage or online were both big confidence boosters. Taking a 'risk' is a great way to grow.
Through blogging I have discovered so much about SEO and coding that I never would have learnt through my day job. The ethics of which are a daily challenge it has to be said, but my lifestyle blog has made me understand the skills and writing abilities required to enable my clients to perform better in this respect too. Over Christmas I've also re-branded, researched font trends for 2019, (outline fonts with their modern, industrial look makes brands look cutting-edge and mature - apparently), analysed the website data and evaluated the content in terms of readers wants and needs - all of which has taught me new skills.
Whether it is attending an event, volunteering on a committee or standing for election, getting involved with a professional body such as the CIPR is worth it. Aside from the personal and professional development, some of my closest friends are people I've met through volunteering with CIPR, who are a great support both personally and professionally. We all need people to lean on from time to time. Yes they are colleagues, but more than colleagues, they are people with similar values, aims and objectives to you, who understand what you do on a day to day basis, which makes for better mutual understanding all round.