Late Wednesday afternoon I left the air-conditioned comfort of my little office and drove into the city for my first networking event of this year – Sydney Instructional Design and eLearning Meetup, organised by the incomparable David Swaddle and the very accommodating Jorn Are Lundin from LinkedIn.
I was going to write this post as a summary of the content covered, but Jorn already beat me to that!
Now it’s fair to say that I don’t get out much and probably should spend more time away from my PC than I do.
It’s the geek in me, I just can’t help it.
But getting out and being with one’s tribe is such an enlightening, empowering and fun experience.
It’s good for all of us on so many levels.
For starters, not many people in my family or social circles really understand what it is that I do as an Instructional Designer.
I’ve had several attempts at explaining it to them – here’s a few samples:
- I create learning experiences (blank expression)
- I write training courses (weak smile, not too sure)
- I help people learn new stuff (slight nod of the head)
- I help people learn things that will help them do their job better (weak smile and slight nod of the head)
- I create eLearning (back to blank expression)
- I help people have “a-ha!” moments (completely glazed over)
Maybe it just comes down to the fact that some of those people just have no experience of corporate land so would have little or no understanding of ever being on the receiving end of my outputs.
I don’t know.
Anyhoo, as I was saying, it’s great to get out and mingle with the tribe for many reasons but here are the main ones that get me out of my office and up to the big smoke:
1. Your tribe “gets” you
The reason you are all part of the same tribe is that you have something in common, whether that be a status, a situation, a shared viewpoint, a profession, a love of good wine – whatever floats your boat.
My boat is learning, how people learn and how we can help them learn.
It’s a big boat.
I think I was once described in a performance review as being over-zealous. I prefer passionate and driven 😉
And it’s good to be with others who are also over-zealous/passionate & driven about the same stuff you are.
It feeds the fire in your belly, releases endorphins, helps make your world better, more meaningful.
It makes you feel like you’re not just bonkers…
2. It’s good to share
There is soooo much we can learn from each other in the sharing of information and resources, in the successes and in the failures.
Ultimately we are all working towards the same goal and we should freely help each other and support each other wherever we can.
3. You get to meet new people
I have never enjoyed throwing myself into a room full of people I don’t know which is why I’ve always hated business networking.
But the fact is that if you want to grow yourself as a person and develop your career and/or business you need to be talking to people.
Not the same people all the time – you need new people, new blood, new ideas, new sharing, new viewpoints.
I always find it a bit nerve racking when I decide to put my hand up to ask a question or share a comment.
To the point that I generally miss whatever is being said while I have my hand up because my lizard brain is freaking itself out screaming “what if someone already said that and I missed it and look stupid?” or “what if they think that’s a dumb comment?” or “do I really know what I’m talking about?”
You know how that internal dialogue goes…
Then at the end of the session when I finally stuck my hand up in the air and could feel the heat of the blush moving from my cheeks, down my neck and onto my chest – we ran out of time 🙁
A big part of me was relieved, but then I was a little disappointed not to have shared, not to have contributed to the great discussion my tribe was engaged in.
So this is what I wanted to say.
Which is also totally scary…
I have done much research and learning in the area of marketing in the last 18 months and I think there are many things we can learn from marketers.
But that’s a whole series of blog posts…
For now, the one rule they have about making a success of any social initiative is to go where the people already are.
Tap into the existing networks and platforms and create a private space for company stuff, e.g. closed Facebook groups or the new Workplace by Facebook.
Personally I have a private Facebook account (where my brother often posts photos of me with big hair and bad clothes in the 80’s – *sigh*) and a work Facebook account which I use for business groups and could use for things like Workplace.
But the advantage for a company that wants me to engage/learn socially is – I’m already there.
I know how the platform works, I know what’s possible and I’m already having conversations there.
Buying a big, new, clunky, expensive enterprise social platform is akin to shoving all your employees in a big room and screaming at them “TALK AND SHARE! TALK AND SHARE! TALK AND SHARE!”
There is a lot more science behind sucessful social learning, I get that, but to start with just go where your people already are; don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
I had a good chew on this with Mark Fenna Roberts at the “extended networking” afterwards.
Our conclusion was that while we are all intrigued with the technology, it is still a bit cost prohibitive but moreso than that, we don’t know “how” to do VR yet.
We need more case studies of people on low budgets with big ideas that we can learn from.
Most of us have probably tried a VR headset by now but we need more practical time with the rest of the puzzle to learn more of the “how”, e.g.:
- How do we design for VR?
- Do existing methodologies still apply to this medium, if not, what’s different?
- How long should it be taking?
- How much would it cost?
- Are there some experiences which are richer in VR than others?
- What tools do you use to program VR experiences?
- Do you need to code or is there an authoring tool version we can learn?
- And where do we go to learn that?
Learning Café ran a webinar I attended last year titled “Virtual Reality in Learning – Has The Time Come?” which, while informative, still left us all hanging a bit in terms of the “how” – unless you have budget to hire VR developers.
So, as we gazed into the future on Wednesday evening, I think the realisation for some of us was that the world is moving fast but we’re still not really keeping up.
Maybe we over-think things.
Maybe we need to be braver in trying new things as pilot projects.
Maybe we have to stop trying to create perfect polished products and be a bit easier on ourselves in order to advance our profession.
Maybe – who knows?
Maybe that’s actually the problem – we don’t know where all this is going.
Which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time (much like being pregnant!)
And which is why our tribe is so important, because we can help each other get wherever the hell it is we are all going!
Thank you to David and Jorn for organising this week’s Meetup and to the panel Elizabeth Robinson (AITD), Joanne Jacobs (Disrupters Handbook) and Ritchie Djamhur (Bing Lee Electrics) for sharing your insights, experiences, candour and humour with us all.
I had a great time and am looking forward to the next tribal gathering.
Which L&D tribes do you belong to?
Share in the comments below so others may join you.