Most important learning comes from people – from interactions, conversations, stories that help to create new meaning and new knowledge. So it is only appropriate to think about people that can support and enhance your learning in various ways. What are your most valuable sources of information? Who are you learning from? Here is a process to help you develop and tap into your key social networks.
- Pull out your list of learning goals that you created in Step 1. For each goal, brainstorm personal and business contacts, organizations, associations, and social networks that have the potential to make your learning more compete and efficient.
- Write down your thoughts on how these potential resources can help you.
- Now think about how you can contribute to these relationships. Look for mutual benefits that can deepen and strengthen your interactions with others. What can you give to other people? Write down your observations.
- Set up a system to manage your contact information. You want something to make the relevant names, phone numbers, addresses, etc. always available and easy to update. This can be a good practice for managing your future client database.
- Develop a plan to contact these resources. Let’s say, you have three goals to focus on at the moment. Prepare to engage the corresponding resources. Decide how and when you will contact them. Compile the initial set of questions or issues you want to discuss.
- Just do it. Get in touch, make a phone call, write a letter or an email, join, subscribe, enroll, invite somebody to lunch or for a cup of coffee. Make a connection.
- The hardest part is to maintain the engagement. It takes time, thought and effort, but the benefits can be huge and long-lasting. So often we just scratch the surface and miss out on the opportunity to have deeper conversations and more profound insights. If you were to take your conversation a step further, what would you say or do? Get into a habit of thinking about the follow-up right after your initial contact. If you want your relationship to grow, plan for it and commit to the path.
- Revisit your list of contacts and your networking plans periodically. Weed out those that don’t work. Focus your time and energy on productive relationships that enhance your learning.
Your networks are like a garden. You design and plant it. You water it regularly and give it food to grow. Some plants die, others flourish. But if you put attention to it, you will have a beautiful garden to enjoy.
Are you ready to grow your learning networks?
Orientation Series: 21 Steps to Becoming a Better Learner:
Step 1: Setting your learning objectives
Step 2: Taking an inventory of your skills
Step 3: Taking an Inventory of Your Learning Tools
Step 4: Finding opportunities for cognitive apprenticeship
Step 5: Determining the "IIQ" of what you read
Step 6: Choosing helpful books for law students
Step 7: “The Three 'P's of Performance” in Action