As a leader and professional its critical to take charge of your own learning. Staying abreast of shifts in society and your industry and keeping up to date with research and evolving practices in your field are critical to remain relevant. One of the most effective and flexible ways to do this is to connect and interact with others.
I am fortunate to co-host the Learning Uncut podcast. At the end of every episode we ask our guests ‘What is the biggest thing you do for your own professional development?’
Many of them describe some form of social learning. They connect with other people both inside and outside their own organisations. They visit others in their workplace and look at how they work and discuss the problems and challenges they face. They attend networking events and conferences as much for the conversations with other attendees as to hear from the speakers.
Some deliberately seek out people who are different in their background and thinking, introducing diversity into their network. Many use social media to interact with others around the globe. Your opportunity to engage with others is not limited by geography.
Get inspiration from what Learning Uncut guests have said about their social learning practices for your own professional development and that of the people you lead.
“Be as connected as you can with people who less corporate in their thinking and perhaps more radical in their views while being in the sort of learning space and so I have a number of connections with people in unions, people not in unions, people who work in startups, people are working in incubators and all that sort of stuff and someone I can’t remember who but there’s a great quote around the fact that if you look at your team and there’s not some awkward uncomfortable people who don’t look like they fit then you probably haven’t got the right people, and so I always like to make sure my network is a mix of all of that, who are challenging me to do uncomfortable things which is good because that’s what we need.”
Listen to Tony Dunford’s Learning Uncut Episode – Skills For Life
“Well, at the moment, I’ll say Agile has been a real learning journey for me, so I’m a bit of a magpie. And there’s quite a few Agile team within BNZ. I just like to go and see how they work, so it’s going and spending a bit of time with them, looking at their visual boards and talking to them, what problems they’re facing. So, I think it’s just getting in front of other parts of the business and seeing how they’re doing things.”
Listen to James Scoggins and Renetta Alexander’s Learning Uncut Episode – Agile L&D
“For a long time I was a team of one and I know that lots of L&D practitioners are and so it was important for me to get out of our organisation and connect with other Learning and Development professionals. So that might be networking events I went to lots of those and also you know just finding out, key people to connect with and you know taking them out for lunch and having a chat and just being really proactive in speaking to others and learning from their experiences and trying to reciprocate where you can as well.”
I became quite active on social media for the same reason and I also participated in many, many, many webinars so that you know I was sort of keeping on top of you know what were the what were the key issues out there and most of it was about reaching out side of my organisation connecting with other L&D; practitioners and learning from their experiences rather than feeling like I had to do it all by myself.
Listen to Kate Fraser’s Learning Uncut episode – Making a Capability Framework Valuable
“I’m a great believer in leading by walking around. So I tend to get out into the business and I’ll drive out to Sunshine Campus. We’ve got about five campuses and I actually go and talk to the teachers and I talk to the managers out there and we just chew the fat and how things are going. And I learn a lot from them. And I then bring that back into my team.”
Listen to Gail Bray’s Learning Uncut episode – Transforming Vocational Education and Training
“I do invest in going to conferences. I also have coaches that I work with. But I think, going to a conference, you have the networking, the synchronicity of the people you might meet, you have the expos, you have experts, you have the keynotes. I think for me, it’s a really good investment.” Emma Weber
“I’ve been lucky enough just to return from my first trip to the ATD. I was just blown away by the length and breadth of the exhibition hall. And just the sessions, and the line outside of the conference, the networking, and discussing sessions back with the Australian contingent. So for me, that being, maybe not the biggest thing, but the most exciting thing for my own development, probably in about the last three years.” Marie Daniels
Listen to Emma Weber and Marie Daniels’ Learning Uncut episode – Learning Transfer Bot
What will you do to connect and interact with others, powering up your professional development?
How could you support others to improve their own professional development practices using social learning?