I was blown away by the response to Part one of this series. So when I started thinking about the second part, I wanted to write for someone who has a budget of less than £500 for the year to spend on Learning and Development, taking into consideration travel, food, books and other expenses. If you take one thing from this post, it's that you can start experimenting where you are. I am in the middle of reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, so I will borrow one of her quotes.
“Just try new things. Don't be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?”
Engage with industry peers face to face. Social media has broken barriers, but the reality is that people connect with people. Many times you will notice people interacting with each other online, but there is a back story of a late night star gazing session or a shared bottle of wine at an awards dinner. Choose events that are within your price range but that provide the best ROI. Ask former attendees and organisers to give you more information so you can make an informed choice. Remember cost doesn’t always equate to value, so be clear on what you hope to get out of the event. Some of my favourites are FutureNet if you are new to Internal Communications and for public sector comms pros Granicus Summit, and The Unawards Masterclass. Comms Unplugged is one I would urge anyone regardless of where you are in your career. If you really want to go for an event but the fee is out of your budget or work aren’t willing to pay. Why not contact the organisers and offer to barter. Your communications and marketing skills for a free ticket.
Experiment with new tools and new ways of doing things. While at City Hall last year for a Mayor of London event, I met a lovely gentleman who asked me to try Google Digital Garage. I did, and it led me down a rabbit hole testing content creation tools such as Canva, Adobe Spark and diving into email marketing and SEO. Testing out tools takes time and may cost small subscription fees, but there are free options so practice with those first.
Explore what the industry is looking for. We often work in silos, and without looking outside our space, we have only one perspective about how things are being done. Last year while at Comms Unplugged Sam Hodges spoke about looking at the skills that we need to become more strategic in our roles or for the jobs we are working towards. In a previous post, I talked about learning from failure and how I turned that around. Check out Glassdoor, Linkedin jobs and the civil service job board to give you a picture of the skills that are sought after. Then seek out courses, webinars and masterclasses. CIPR, IOIC, and PRCA all have tailored courses for specific communications, marketing and public relations disciplines. LinkedIn learning is a great resource, available if you subscribe to the career premium option. As you go further in your career, you will find that you need to choose projects that position you strategically. Think about all aspects of what a senior communications role entails. Job titles no matter how glamorous cannot eliminate Imposter syndrome or lack of confidence. That is why it is so important to seek help from others on the personal development aspects that could also hold you back.
Evaluate and reflect on what has gone well and what has changed. Energy and impact should balance each other out. Some things will take years to perfect, and it may take a while for you to utilise elements of your learning. Thinking about what you have implemented, how do you measure the impact against your goals. What are the other skills that you need to work on? For example, you have completed a video editing course, try to introduce elements of that into campaigns and if there isn’t scope to use the skills at work why not try it in your own life with your family. It could start in subtle ways on social media or a live stream of an event. Now that you are working on your video editing, could you now think about production to tell the story in a better way?
I hope this has been helpful for everyone and if there is a desire for a part 3 do let me know.