The first step in this series consisted of evaluating and possibly changing your personal learning network. Aside from your personal network, you will also need to evaluate your professional learning network. Do not confuse your professional learning network with your current job place. Your responsibility as a contributing member of the work force is to ensure that you are surrounding yourself with the best possible opportunities to further yourself, those around you, and the ones who will come after you. A few tips to keep in mind as you look at your professional learning network:
- Secure your happiness – Happiness is not always defined as laughing and smiling. Sometimes a relationship that is difficult can be enabling you to be a better individual. The relationship may not provide a great smile on a daily basis, but the conversations can make you a better and ultimately happier person.
- Get AND Give – It is so nice to be able to sit back and soak up as much information as possible from individuals smarter, richer, and more successful than yourself. This one-sided and selfish interpretation of life can eventually lead to your downfall. It has been argued by many spiritual advisors that we were created for community. Find someone in a situation that you were once in and help him or her out. A true professional is constantly gathering and giving information (without a price).
- Reach out – It is rare that opportunities come knocking on your door. Maybe you have an experience or two that has landed in your lap and provided you with a better future than you could have built for yourself. These individuals are few and far between. Reach out to someone who you think is unreachable. An example of this can be found in Bob Goff’s book, Love Does. Goff’s children decided to hand write letters to world leaders and invite them for a sleepover and to discuss issues of peace. Eventually, princes and government officials were spending the night with the Goffs and working with children to make the world a better place.
A professional learning network can benefit you in ways a personal learning network cannot. Allow individuals from different disciplines to creatively adapt their thoughts and ideas into your world to see a new perspective. When you go to the next conference or training seminar, try meeting 3 new people and get to know them. You will be amazed at what connections and opportunities can come through casual conversations. If you are tired of the routine grind of life, step out and be different. Take your next step today and never look back, except to laugh.