Networking – A skill you can learn or is it simply nature?

This week’s post is written by Lesley Price (@lesleywprice).  Lesley is a co-founder of the #chat2lrn crew and now, although supposedly ‘semi-retired’, she works part-time for Learn Appeal  and continues to love challenging and being challenged! 

networking

In the Learning and Development community, we so often refer to our #PLN, Personal Learning Network, and the benefits we get from being part of a network. I attended the LPI Annual Conference, Learning Live two weeks ago and it was great to see so many people I knew. In fact, there were so many, it was difficult to find the time to speak to all of them. Over the two days, I had lots of interesting conversations about the event, catching up with people and hearing about things they were working on.

However, with many, I only seemed to have time to say ‘Hi – we must chat later’ or even worse, just waving across a busy room whilst making a mental note to speak to them over the course of the two days.  Some I managed to talk to, but others it was simply left with an acknowledgement and a wave. I was also introduced to people I had never met before, so my network is still growing.

I know that I have a very wide network, in fact a world-wide network which I find invaluable, but it then started me thinking about how my network evolved.   Was it by chance?  It is because of conversations I have when I meet people? Is it nature or nurture or maybe a bit of both?   If I can’t find the time to talk to everybody I know at an event, is it because I know too many people? Can your network get so big that it actually becomes unmanageable and if it does what can you do about it?

Is networking a skill that you can develop? Time is finite – there are never going to be more than 24 hours in a day.  Effective networking is not just about meeting people, networks also take time and effort.  So how much time does it take to maintain a network? How do we decide which parts of our network we foster regularly?  How do we work out the bits of our network that we can dip in and out of because they are self-sufficient and which networks do we neglect because we simply don’t have the time.

As if that isn’t enough, we also have to think about how we connect with our networks. Is it face-to-face, by using social media or by emails and phone calls?

I was fortunate in that I learned many of these skills from my parents, particularly my mother. She also taught me what I should look for when I moved into the workplace and that I could learn by watching and listening.

Personally, I believe that networking is an invaluable skill that we can develop, but how can we nurture it in others?  Join us in #chat2lrn on Thursday 22 September 0.8.00 PDT/11.00 EDT /16.00 BST to see if, between us, we can hone our own networking skills and learn how to foster them in others.

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Making Social Learning Happen!

This week’s post comes from #chat2lrn crew member, Judith Christian-Carter. Judith is a Director of Effective Learning Solutions, a UK-based learning services company. You can find her on Twitter @JudithELS

What’s happened to social learning?Social learning handbook

Maybe it’s just me but, after several years of hearing and seeing the term ‘Social Learning’ on an almost daily basis, it now seems to have faded out of frequent use. Forget Bandura’s social learning theory for one moment, as that’s not what we’re talking about here. Neither is the fact that social learning is an inherent human condition. No, what we’re talking about here is the way that learning and working is happening, or should be happening, in organisations.

It was back in 2011 when Jane Hart really pushed the whole idea of Social Learning into the limelight with the publication of the first edition of her extremely well-received Handbook. Back then, Jane, and others, were talking about and demonstrating how the social media tools of the day could, and should, emancipate people to become workplace learners. It was these tools that shaped social learning in the second decade of the 21st Century.

4 years on …

Not only do all these tools still exist but they have also been improved, made more Social mediauser-friendly, grown in number and, even more importantly, are now used by even more people than ever before. Just compare how many people are using tools like Twitter, Facebook, Skype, YouTube and Pinterest today with 4-years ago, and what they are using them for. Are people learning through the use of these tools? You bet they are! Are they using them even more for workplace and social learning, and if not, why not? Well, on that one the jury is out but it’s about to be called back in!

The #chat2lrn jury

Social Learning is not something you just talk about or read about, it’s something you do!” (Jane Hart, 2011). So, as a member of the jury, is social learning happening in your world or not? If it is, what’s making it happen? If it’s not happening, then what will it need to take to make it happen? 

Join the jury and discuss these and other questions on 27th August 2015.

 

 

Benefits of PLN, Community and Professional Organizations

Today’s post comes to us from #chat2lrn crew member, Meg Bertapelle. Meg is a Senior Instructional Designer of Clinical and Product Education at Intuitive Surgical, a medical device company which makes the da Vinci Surgical System. You can find her on twitter at @megbertapelle


 

I just got back from attending the DevLearn conference and I’ve been struggling to pull together my “take-aways” for the last week (while also trying to catch up at work after being gone for a week). My gut was telling me that the best part was the people – but is that really OK? I mean, my company paid a lot of money to send me to this conference, and the best part was the people?

#chat2lrn pre-chat LIVE at #DevLearn 14

#chat2lrn pre-chat LIVE at #DevLearn 14
Thanks to @tomspiglanin for the picture via Twitter 🙂

 For me, it really is true. The sessions might have been the spark, but the conversations and connections with all of these great smart people really were the best part. I was able to connect with people in person that I normally only communicate with over the internet. While we have become great friends and I respected and trusted them all before I met them in person, the connection was much stronger, and our communication was more efficient, in person. We’ll leave THAT distinction for another chat (maybe talk to Helen Blunden), but my point is that meeting people in person (or seeing them again in person) this time has really brought home to me that I would not be anywhere NEAR as good an instructional designer, employee, problem solver – and even thinker – without my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Whoever first said “we are smarter than me” is SO right. (btw, apparently there’s a book – I haven’t read it, but I should put it on my list!)

 I have always captured some great information and ideas from attending a conference. In fact the first conference I went to was DevLearn in 2010. The sessions I went to and people I met (can’t possibly name them all) are the whole reason I am here today, part of the #chat2lrn crew, writing a blog for a Twitter chat where we can discuss and debate really interesting things with really smart people. The great ideas don’t wait for a conference though – people in the L+D community, in my PLN, come up with ideas, share interesting stuff and have wonderful debates and discussions on Twitter, or Skype, or LinkedIn, or Google+, and it’s happening ALL THE TIME. Without this community (that’s you!), I might still be creating really horrible training materials and calling them good! LOL

So thank you, all of you, for being the greatest benefit of all in my career. Thank you for allowing me to tag along – and possibly contribute in some small way – with your PLN. 

What about you? What have you found to be the benefits of having a PLN, or participating in a community or professional organization?

Let’s discuss during #chat2lrn on Nov. 13th, 8:00 PST/11:00 EST/16:00 GMT. Hope to see you there!