31 Ways to Boost Your Learning Career – Part 2

Author: Karen Moloney

Following on from Part 1 of this 2 part series, here’s the remaining 15 ways you can give your learning career a boost.

Simple cartoon of a businessman on a rocket

Give your learning career a boost with these tips

17. Get a professional certification

In Part 1 we talked about the idea of enrolling in a course and many of the courses available will lead to a formal qualification like a diploma or degree, etc.

However, there are also some professional certification options available which consider experience as well as qualifications:

18. Join online discussions

With many learning professionals working in isolation or in small teams across organisations, online discussion forums have become an invaluable resource, especially for those working in isolation or in small teams.

If we have a question, need a recommendation, have something to share, or want to get feedback, there are hundreds of thousands of people just like us in groups online globally who can help.

I think that’s pretty awesome, but I don’t think we are using groups as much as we could. This article explores that assumption in a bit more detail.

Choose your forums carefully. Many groups, particularly on LinkedIn, may look like they are very active because they have lots of members and LinkedIn puts them at the top of the “most active groups” list, but that is because they are full of people sharing their blog posts. While there is a lot of good information being shared, what you really want are groups that have active discussions, so looking at content and checking out member rules is a good idea before you spend any time there.

If you’re looking for a qood quality industry forum to get started with, try The Future of Learning on Slack hosted by Matt Smith.

19. Read more

There is an abundance of blog posts, articles and other reading material freely available for you to dive into and broaden your knowledge around all things learning.

However, this can become a little overwhelming so it’s good to get a focus either on a topic or a source so that you get the best out of the time you spend reading.

Some sources for your reading pleasure could include:

20. Get Tweeting

I’m a big fan of Twitter as a place to share content and have discussions with others around my work. If you haven’t used Twitter yet, here’s some tips for getting started.

The easiest way to find people to follow on Twitter is to search for keywords or hashtags (e.g. #elearning, #learning, #gamification, #instructionaldesign), see who comes up, check out their profile and tweets, then follow them if you’re interested.

While I do follow many thought leaders in our space, I get most value from the people below because they share a range of content and their hands-on experiences in the application of various learning theories, models and practices:

  • Michelle Ockers @MichelleOckers
  • Matt Smith @MattSmith_PL
  • Con Sotidis @LearnKotch
  • Helen Blunden @ActivateLearn
  • Rachel Burnham @BurnhamLandD
  • Ryan Tracey @ryantracey
  • JD Dillon @JD_Dillon
  • Sean Bengry @seanbengry.

There are, of course, thousands of others who contribute to my knowledge development via Twitter and I thank them all!  If you want the full list, see who I follow via @karenmoloney and @elexaus.

21. Get networking

Networking in the learning industry used to be something that only happened when you went to an event organised by a member association and it also wasn’t viewed as something that was key to our profession.

With the rise of tools like Meetup and Twitter, getting together with other like-minded individuals has never been easier and, in my opinion, is vital to our ongoing development and progress as professionals and as an industry.

Let’s face it though, walking into a room full of people you don’t know is most people’s idea of hell. There have been many times when I have stood outside a networking event trying to decide whether to go in or go home.

But I always meet someone new and interesting.

Always.

There are people who have dedicated their life’s work to helping others become better networkers and if you Google “networking tips” I’m sure you will find them.

Here are my tips:

  • Put aside time every couple of weeks or once a month to attend a networking event.  There are free ones being run by
  • Check out our calendar and/or sign up for monthly event listings to keep up to date with L&D networking events near you
  • Add your connections to a networking tool like LinkedIn so you are able to easily look up contacts who can provide assistance when you need it
  • Always be giving to your network. Make regular time to review your contacts and get in touch to see if there is anything you can do to help them. Share useful resources you think would be valuable to them
  • Be a connector. Introduce members of your network to each other where you can see synergies and opportunities that benefit both parties.

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22. Publish to Slideshare

How many presentations and workshops have you put together that just get saved in the archives and never seen again?

Could you blow the dust off them, spruce them up a bit with some more detailed narrative or engaging graphics and share with others?

Slideshare is now part of LinkedIn and is a great way to share your expertise with your network and the wider LinkedIn community.

23. Speak at events

You don’t have to be a member of Toastmasters to get a speaking gig in our industry.

Of course, if you are skilled in public speaking and presenting then that will make for a better audience experience and ultimately allow you to charge for appearances, but if you have engaging content to share then that’s all you need to get started.

Industry conferences and meetup groups are always on the lookout for people who are doing interesting things with learning that they are prepared to share.

Start small with informal groups like the ones listed in the section on Networking, then look out for requests for speakers at the larger industry conferences.

Whether you are a guest speaker at an in-person event or on a webinar, it’s a great way to get in front of people, share your message and make connections.

And once you’re over the initial fear of public speaking it can be quite a lot of fun ????

24. Develop your own product

What better way to showcase your skills than to create your own bit of elearning or your own leadership program?

The product doesn’t have to be an all-singing, all-dancing 15 hour program, it just needs to showcase your skills and capabilities in your chosen area of expertise.

When using employer or client projects as samples of work, there are usually confidentiality issues and almost always the work is not a true representation of your abilities because of other project, e.g. time, cost, infrastructure, politics, etc., (well, in my experience anyway…).

There is the potential to sell that product for private revenue, but the bigger benefit is that you have something in your portfolio that is created 100% by you and that’s a great asset to have in your career development toolkit.

25. Ask for recommendations/testimonials

There’s no better validation of you and your work than a recommendation/testimonial/reference that you can add to your portfolio or website.

Unfortunately, people don’t often offer these up so you have to ask for them. When you do ask, consider the following:

  • Be specific in what you are asking the person to recommend you for. Sending a message and saying “Can you please write me a recommendation/testimonial?” will likely not get you a response any time soon.
  • If you write “Can you please give me a recommendation for my {insert skill here, e.g. project management abilities}?” then the person writing has clear direction for what they need to focus on.
  • Alternatively, if you know the referee well and they are time poor (i.e. most people!), you could always write a short paragraph for them which you send for them to review and edit if they wish.

26. Create your own website/portfolio

These days it’s cheap and easy to set up your own website using tools like WordPress, Wix and Weebly.

LinkedIn is great as a platform to host your professional profile, but you have no control over what LinkedIn does with that platform and it may not be the best place to showcase your skills.

Creating your own website/portfolio will give you the ability to showcase your work (observing client/employer confidentiality as appropriate), share information about yourself and write your own blog.

Register your name as the domain name, e.g. www.karenmoloney.com so that people can find you easily and link this site to your social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter.

27. Do your own research

Some of the most popular content online, in any industry, is research data.

Is there some research you could do that would assist you to become the expert in your niche or progress the learning profession or industry somehow?

What’s your burning question?

Ask it.

28. Write a White Paper

A White Paper is an authoritative, in depth report on a specific topic which will assist readers in their understanding of that topic or in solving a problem or making a decision.

You could write a White Paper based on research you have done, reviews of industry trends, product comparisons, case studies of projects you have worked on – the list is endless.

You could also co-create the White Paper with someone who has a large audience to share it with if you want to maximise your exposure.

White Papers are also great assets to add to your professional portfolio, whether that be online or offline.

If you’re not familiar with White Papers or would like some guidance to get you started, this is a great article from Curata with a free template download.

29. Write articles

One of the easiest and most shareable ways to demonstrate your expertise is by writing articles and blog posts.

You don’t need to have your own blog to do this, but my view is that if you are going to spend time and effort creating a good piece then you don’t always want someone else to own the copyright.

Yes, read the fine print because many magazines and blogs own your content once you hand it over…

There are heaps of places to share your articles once written, but to get started you can publish to:

We also welcome submissions of articles for our blog (and yes, you get to retain copyright ownership).  Contact us for more information.

Learning industry magazines and content aggregators are great places to get published and noticed in this space. Here’s some you can send submissions to  eLearning Age, eLearning Industry, TD Magazine, Training & Development Magazine

I could write a whole article just on this topic, but my main tips are:

  1. Be authentic. Yes, be professional and be informative, but also be you. That’s how people will connect with you and your message.
  2. Read the contributor guidelines carefully. All editors have clear guidelines for article submissions and if you don’t follow them it’s likely you won’t get a response or get published.
  3. Make sure you know who will own your content once it is submitted.

30. Host a webinar

Webinars are very popular in our industry and are a great way to connect with people to share your message.

Being the host of a webinar can really boost your profile, but being the guest speaker at one will do just as well.

Much like the advice given in the section on speaking at events, you need to provide some great content but on webinars you also need to design a session that will engage with your audience who (on most webinars) can’t see you.

While webinar tools have the option to stream video of presenters, the internet bandwidth of those attending will determine what kind of experience they have and it’s not always great when streaming video.

Traditionally, webinars will run for about an hour to allow time for delivery of content, Q&A, etc., although I personally prefer the 30 minute webinar.

The duration will obviously depend on your content and audience, but you will probably find that you get more interest in a session which is easier for people to slot into their working day.

Check out C4LPT to find webinar tools you can use to host your own session and please read The Virtual Presenter’s Handbook by my colleague Roger Courville before you even think about going live!

Make sure you also record the webinar so you can publish and re-purpose the content as a blog post or video on your other social channels.

31. Write a book

Writing a book is a big undertaking, but is ultimately one of the best ways to establish yourself as an industry expert.

Self-publishing is an option whether you want to produce a hard copy book or a digital book, so you don’t need spend years persuading publishers to take on your manuscript.

There are heaps of resources available to inform and assist you with self-publishing – just Google “self-publishing” and take your pick.

Two things to note about writing a book:

  1. It will give you heaps of credibility (providing your content is good, of course!)
  2. It won’t make you rich. Novels could make you rich, but books about learning probably won’t. However, the doors that a book will open for you in terms of your career and speaking gigs are hard to put a price on.

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this article with tips 1-16 you can check it out here.

What would you add to this list?

 

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2017-08-18T23:26:03+00:00