Attending training and conferences are expensive activities. If you are a sole trader or someone who pays for their own self-development, these may present an expense that you choose not to take on. There are ways around this.
5 Self-education hacks
There are many ways you can maintain your self-education, that won’t cost you a fortune. They require a little effort on your part, but the benefits can be surprising.
- Be a mentor
Being a mentor means supporting the development of someone else. It can be sharing ideas, making introductions, listening and asking questions to facilitate the mentee’s thinking. It is not a one-way street though. To be a mentor, you need to reflect on your own experience, determine the things worth sharing and exercise wise counsel in your role.
Being a mentor is a reciprocal arrangement. You too learn from your mentee. You learn about your own impact on that person, on their perspective on the world, on the way their world works. It is social, interactive and an opportunity to build relationships and knowledge.
- Seek a mentor
Find a mentor for yourself. Ask someone if they would consider being your mentor. It is a great privilege to be thought of as providing guidance to another. As above, there are many social and relationship-building benefits from such a relationship.
Having a mentor means having a wise friend to discuss things with. Use them as a sounding board for your ideas and career aspirations. Ask them to suggest the things you should be reading, doing or researching.
- Enrol in MOOCs or other online courses
Coursera offer a range of mass open online courses (MOOCs) that are free. They provide manageable online courses with video clips, reading materials, forums and activities to engage in. The social interaction can be with people across the globe and the extent to your involvement is managed by you.
There are a range of “How to … ” courses available online. They are diverse and offer everything from learning computer coding to do-it-yourself projects at home. There are many people who are “self-taught” practitioners in their fields. Thanks to the internet, their research skills and natural curiosity, this is possible.
- Follow the experts
Following experts means finding out who are the “who’s who” in the field. Twitter can provide an avenue for this. You can search on topics of interest and see who writes about particular topics of interest. After following some for a while, you will start to notice who is referenced a lot and you will develop some favourites to follow. Usually this will lead you to websites or publications.
- Talk to your networks
Talk to people you know in a range of networks. People love being asked their opinion on things. Find out what others have heard or read on topics of interest. There may be ways you can connect into new networks along these lines too eg join a meet-up – a social group organised around a particular interest area.
Learning is social
Learning is a social activity. It involves the exchange of ideas and the generation of new ones. There will always be time needed for reading and research but it is how you use this that matters. Finding opportunities to “chew the fat” with others over topics of interest is available in many forms – online and face-to-face. It has made so much knowledge available to us – it seems a shame not to take advantage of the connectivity made possible through technology.
What do you do?
Do you engage with any of these things? Have you had success from engaging with some of these means of learning? If you have, would you share them with us through this blog? Would love to hear from you!