Friday, March 25, 2011

Building Your Knowledge Network: Recap from the YNPN National Conference 2011

By: Jessica Rodgers, Board Member, YNPN San Diego

I attended a session about strengthening my knowledge network. Of course the first question I asked (as I am sure you are asking now) was: What is a Knowledge Network? It's a way for you to ensure you are engaging in the topics relevant to your interests, as well as to your work and personal lives.

As far as I could tell, there were three parts to this. Part one was how to make yourself more apt to developing a knowledgeable conversation with someone to ultimately lead yourself to understanding their perspective and helping them to see it as well. Part two was about making sure you are evaluating your learning and finding real-life ways to apply it. Part three was related to the tools you can use to set yourself up for success in staying atop information relative to your life.
PART 1--Coaching
Use the Socratic Method. The best coach just asks questions and doesn't provide advice.
To practice, we each had one minute to describe a current situation we were experiencing at work or at home. Then, the coach practiced asking questions for two minutes without expressing any statements about the matter.

This was one of the hardest things I've ever done (well, close anyhow). I've been trying this out at work for a few days now, and it seems to be working well--just takes some getting used to. I felt a little weird not sharing any content--then I realized people don't often want to hear the content. SO, it works. Try it and see how it feels for you to just ask questions--or try being on the receiving end and have some else just ask you questions without any commentary.

Afterthoughts from some of the participants included:
  • it's good not to have expertise in the area so that you don't always give advice...
  • it's good not to be involved and have specific perspective of the situation...nice to have outsider view
  • it's non-threatening
  • includes action step,
  • could be with coworkers or self reflection, and
  • should be done more regularly
What is a feedback loop? It's a continual assessment and implementation of your learning. It allows you to create growth opportunities for yourself.

The steps include:
Observe: ex. How am I managing something?
Assess: ex. What are the pieces and people involved?
Design: ex. What is a better way that I could have done this?
Implement: ex. Try the new way of doing it and then re-observe and continue this same process to make improvements.
Re-observe, etc.

Part 3--Setting yourself up for continued learning

You should research information on a daily basis to keep up on sector trends and to learn something new. If you find something valuable for someone else, share an article with them. They will begin to see you as a resource.

What helps? Tera says that blogs are key. They let you keep up with discussions and learn about innovations. They also allow for hobbies tangential or totally separate from work. It's important to spread yourself out.

SO, what are some tools that can help?
Let us know if you know of other great and current tools for improving your knowledge network.

Thank you to Tera Wozniak Qualls for her session at the YNPN National Conference 2011 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Tera is the YNPN National Board Member, program and communications coordinator, Johnson Center for Philanthropy. This blog post is based off of my attendance at Tera's session.

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