On the weekend I attended BlogJam – a day-long conference for bloggers. Normally, when I attend such an event, I write about my top takeaways. Although I learned lots, this time I left with a stronger impression of the day. It was amazing to see Bloggers from all over connecting and learning from each other. As I watched, my A-Ha moment came when I realized that these Bloggers were developing their learning network.
Learning network? What is a learning network?
A learning network (LN) is a network of trusted connections you learn from on a regular basis. They differ from other networks because their sole purpose is for learning. They are as diverse as the interests, skill-sets, knowledge and experience the individual members bring to the group. In an LN, everyone at one time plays the role of teacher, learner, and contributor.
Technology has removed many social barriers. We can now connect with people who we may not have been able to do in the past. Blogs, social media, Google, video conferencing, mastermind groups, shared collaboration tools, and live chats have created platforms to expand our LN to a global community. We can now engage in learning worldwide.
However, the members you can meet up with over coffee, a meal, or even at a conference once a year, are still equally valuable in the creation and sustainment of your LN. As much as I appreciate those in my Learning Network who are from different parts of the world, nothing replaces the ones I can interact with in person.
So what are the benefits of having a Learning Network? Here are some top reasons:
1) It allows you to connect and learn with others beyond your own space with different experiences and perspectives.
2) It provides a place to ask those questions you need answers to without being afraid to look foolish or incompetent.
3) It reflects what motivates and interests you so that you are excited to participate and not view it as something that needs to happen.
4) It allows you to share those ideas and to get feedback on things that you have percolating in your brain.
5) You can learn anytime. No longer do you have to wait for formal training or courses. You can participate in your LN at your convenience and usually for free.
6) You can work out-loud. LNs provide a space to collaborate with others and to gain insightful perspective to help move those projects along.
So like those BlogJammers, seek out individuals who share your desire to learn and grow. Meet regularly. Share your ideas. Contribute resources and feedback. Teach others. Be a strong learner, teacher, and leader. Finally, watch yourself blossom towards great things.