Learn From Others

This post is the second in a three-part series about achieving success in professional careers. While incorporating your passions into your career is a great way to build fulfillment, this series is applicable to anyone looking to succeed. The first post focused on defining goals, read that one here. This post will focus on connecting with people who will help you to reach those goals.

 Photo via  Flickr

Photo via Flickr

Do you spend time learning about your passion from others? I’ve mentioned before how important this is, but I realized that even for myself I wasn’t doing this nearly as much as I should have. This became clear to me when I took a look at how many people I had contacted directly about starting businesses. Given that this is what I plan to do for the better part of my life, this should be a high-priority task. And yet the list was pitifully small compared to where I thought I should be. It was also a sign that I hadn’t progressed in building my passions as much as I planned.

Learning from others is a great way to learn more about your passions. The simplest method is to read books and articles from experienced people in your field, but there’s so much more you can do than just read. Books are one-way avenues, and don’t give you the opportunity to pose questions, discuss specific situations, or even just see the way a writer’s eyes light up when they speak. So let’s look at three easy ways to make more connections, build meaningful relationships with others in your field, and learn a ton along the way.

Networking Events

Taking it to the next level involves talking with actual people (I know, but trust me it’s not as scary as it sounds). Networking can take many forms, but at the heart of it, the goal is to bring value to each others lives. So while many people think of the networking events where everyone runs around throwing business cards at each other hoping to get the inside track on a new promotion or job opportunity, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I regularly attend events and only speak to a handful of people the whole night, but build lasting relationships for years to come.

These events are where you can learn from others in your field and hear what they may have already struggled through. Through this exchange of information, it becomes a two way street in which you benefit from their experience, and they from yours. Also, in order to have these conversations you are forced to take the time to reflect on and express your own choices. We collectively don’t spend enough time thinking about what we’ve already accomplished, a key element of learning, and so it’s to our benefit to talk to others about our efforts.

Conferences

Conferences take the networking to a new level because not only are you networking with your peers, you’re also potentially learning from others that may be many steps ahead of you. When someone is invited as a keynote speaker, they have often developed a strong reputation that comes from years of experience. Learning from them and taking in as much information as possible is great, and getting a chance to speak with them afterwards can be a real treat. I love getting the chance to be a part of the candid conversations and thoughts of incredibly intelligent people and just take it in.

Lunch/Coffee Meetings

I find that lunch/coffee meetings can be a bit intimidating for some, so it’s best to leave this for last. At this point, you may have had a chance to connect with a few people who have a great deal of knowledge to share, and are willing to talk to you directly. Setting up a quick or not so quick meeting is a great way to pick their brains. These can take a lot of time and effort to setup with busy schedules, so be a little picky with those that you decide to meet with.

If you’ve already spent time networking and developing your own knowledge base, then you can spend your time together diving into some of the more advanced concepts and not just going over something a quick internet search would answer. Also, you may have some insights to share with them, and everyone loves someone who can teach them something.

Each of these elements give you the chance to learn from others in ways that will honestly change your life. If you aren’t doing them already, you should be. And if you already doing them, do them more!

What are some of the ways you’ve learned from others?

- Ryan