Be Bold in Growing Your LinkedIn Network

“In growing your network, you want it to be both diverse and concentrated,” personal branding expert William Arruda wrote recently in Forbes about how to cultivate a powerful LinkedIn network.

First, begin with why you’re on LinkedIn. What do you want to accomplish? How can growing your network help you do that?

Second, ask yourself this question: Who did you meet this week, who will you be meeting soon and who do you want to meet?

Third, take a few minutes every week to add to your LinkedIn network. Always send a personalized invitation, explaining how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.

As you build your network, make sure your profile presents you in the best light. Here are great profile tips from LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher and Landit CEO Lisa Skeete Tatum. They spoke this winter at the MAKERS Conference for women’s leadership.

Who did you meet this week? Did you start working with any new colleagues? How about vendors? Invite them to join your network.

What professional, civic and charitable organizations are you involved with? Invite key people from those groups to be part of your network.

Look at your email contact list, your Facebook friend list, your Twitter followers and so on. Identify the ones you want to invite to your LinkedIn network. The “grow your network” feature on LinkedIn will see who you already know based on your email address book.

At the airport recently, I ran into someone I met a few years ago at an event at my son’s school. We struck up a conversation and caught up on what was going on at our respective employers (opinions expressed in this blog are my own). To keep the connection going, I followed up with a LinkedIn invitation.

One of my professional associations, a roundtable for senior communicators, also had its quarterly meeting this week. At the end of each day, I sent personalized invitations to people I’d met. An even better strategy – one colleague sent invitations in real time during our roundtable discussion of timely issues.

Who will you be meeting soon? What’s on your calendar for the coming week or month? Will you be meeting new people? Send them an invitation in advance of the event.

When you meet in person, you’ll already be acquainted with each other’s LinkedIn profiles and you may find a great conversation starter. For example, maybe you know interesting people in common or your new connection is working on a project you want to learn more about.

Who would you like to meet? Are you working in a new area and want to learn from the luminaries in the field? Are there companies of interest you want to know more about? Are there second-level contacts you’d like to add to your network?

This is where the personalized invitation is especially important. Explain in a compelling and brief way why you’d like to connect.

Take advantage of the “people you may know” algorithm in LinkedIn. Is there anyone you’ve missed connecting with? Invite them to your network.

Lucas Buck recommends looking at alumni groups and people who have similar college degrees. He’s an area sales manager at Farmers Insurance who uses LinkedIn highly successfully to achieve his business objectives.

He spoke last fall at a networking group affiliated with my son’s school. What did I do the same day as the event? I sent personalized LinkedIn invitations to the people I met at the event, along with Lucas.

Here’s a sidenote about conference speakers. Introduce yourself and chat with the speaker briefly before they speak, if they aren’t too busy with final presentation preparation. Fewer people line up to talk with them before their presentation, as opposed to the larger group that tends to gather after the talk.

Back to LinkedIn, what strategies do you use to grow your network?

Be Bold in Your LinkedIn Profile

What’s one action you can take today to kick-start your career?

Tell a bold story in your LinkedIn profile.

Here are powerful strategies from this month’s MAKERS Conference. LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher and Landit CEO Lisa Skeete Tatum led a standing-room-only session on managing your personal brand.

What is a personal brand? The presenters cited Jeff Bezos, who says “your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”

To define your brand they asked a key question: what do people want you in the room for? Put another way: what is the best of you?

How you answer these questions will shape the story you tell about yourself in social media and in real life. (And if you’re looking to reinvent your brand, there are great ideas from bestselling author Dorie Clark.)

While a brand – for a corporation, a product or a professional – is built over time, here are actions you can take today for a bolder LinkedIn profile.

They’re from the LinkedIn tip sheet above, along with how I’ve made them work for me. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

  • Include a professional photo. According to LinkedIn, your profile is 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a photo. Here’s how to take a great headshot. If you don’t have a high-quality recent headshot, get one done this month.
  • Personalize your headline. Don’t use the default of your current job title. Show what you do and what makes you unique. Look at a variety of headlines for inspiration to see what catches your eye.
  • Add visuals. There are 20 million pieces of content on member profiles. Is your content among those? Post videos and pictures of your best work. Upload relevant presentations that can be shared with the public.
  • Post a compelling summary. Make it 40 words or more. Include keywords for your industry. Read others’ summaries to see what appeals to you. Writing in first person is stronger and bolder than third person.
  • Cover your past work experience. Your profile is 12 times more likely to be viewed if you list more than one position. If you’ve been working for several years, though, you can omit earlier positions that don’t add to your story.
  • Include volunteer experience and causes. This information increases profile views 6 times. If you’re looking for areas to engage, get involved with your company’s philanthropic causes and volunteer opportunities.
  • Check out LinkedIn Learning. We all get to be lifelong learners, and this feature offers hundreds of online courses. It’s a great reason to become a premium subscriber, which I did a few years ago for the analytics.
  • Share your contact information. Make it easy for people to get in touch with you. Include your email address, your blog, your Twitter handle and your company’s website. However, consider omitting your cellphone number.
  • Customize your public URL. Here are easy instructions. For consistent branding, use your name in the URL the same way you use it in other social profiles. Put it on your resume, business card and email signature.
  • Add skills and get endorsements. Be deliberate about skills you list. Your top 3 skill endorsements display in mobile search, so reorder them to show the ones that best tell your story. Give back to your network by endorsing others’ skills.

One of my goals for the MAKERS conference was to meet new people in every session. At the end of each day, I looked them up in LinkedIn. If I only had a first name and a company, I was able to search with that and find the right profile.

Then I sent personalized invitations (don’t send the default invitation!). Now we’re connected and can easily keep in touch as we build on the conference learnings.

How have you been bold in your LinkedIn profile?

The Social Media Side of a Networking Event

It’s the holiday season. That means year-end networking events.

They always seem like a good idea when the invitation arrives, don’t they?

Yet when the appointed hour comes, I often regret my affirmative RSVP.

Except I didn’t this month when I dragged myself away from a compelling work project at 6:30 one evening and made myself go to the event I said I would attend.

It was a professional networking event of my son’s high school, for alums and parents to get to know each other and share ideas.

To honor my commitment, I intended to stay for 30 minutes. But happily and unexpectedly, that extended into a fun-filled 90 minutes.

Why? As I reflected on it, there are a few ways to make the most of a networking event.

In particular, think about the social savvy aspect, or social media element, of the people you meet and the conversations you have.

  • Have a goal or two. Why are you attending? What do you want to accomplish? For me, I wanted to meet local professionals related to my son’s school to feel more connected to the school and the local community. I wanted to meet interesting people and hear what they were doing.

In part, I was inspired by marketing strategist Dorie Clark‘s advice in Harvard Business Review about networking with people outside your industry. She makes a compelling case for deliberately exposing yourself to diverse points of view.

And just like social media is about sharing and giving, the same is true for a networking event. Approach it from the perspective of how you can help others.

How do you do that? Here are a few ideas.

  • Scan the attendee list. Look up a few people in social media to see who you might want to meet. What have they posted about recently? How can that be a conversation starter?
  • Scan the latest news. Know what’s happening in the world that day. See what’s trending on Twitter. You’ll be better able to engage in conversations and ask people for their thoughts.
  • Wear something that makes a statement. Pick something that you feel great in. A bright color, an interesting tie or a fabulous pin can help you connect with people. And you’ll stand out in photos that are posted in social media.
  • Stand in the doorway for a moment when you arrive. This helps anchor you and lets you scan the room to see who you might want to meet.
  • Put your name tag on your right side. This was something I learned in grad school at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. When you shake hands, your name tag becomes more prominent and easier to read.
  • Grab a beverage. Stick to one drink and sip it slowly. Hold it in your left hand, so your right hand is ready for shaking hands.
  • Have a question or two ready. This will depend on the group. For mine, I asked about how people were connected to the school.
  • Introduce people to each other. Make a point of connecting people you know to each other. Say something great about each person that provides a conversation starter.
  • Look for small groups. It’s easier to start conversations with one or two people. You can start with a comment on the food or the venue or something interesting they’re wearing.
  • Post about the event. Take an interesting photo, add a caption about something new you learned and share the spirit of the event.
  • Share content about the event. If the event has a hashtag, search it and share relevant and appropriate content.

How do you make the most of a networking event?

Don’t Ditch Social Media

Four friends checking their mobile phones at the same time.

Social media got a bad rap during this year’s election process.

Fake news, Twitter trolls and cyber bullying came under fire.

Among American social media users, the Pew Research Center reported that 65% expressed “resignation and frustration about online political conversations.”

It’s enough to make anyone want to quit social media for good.

But don’t do that.

Why?

Because of your 100-year life.

What’s that about, you ask?

Well, more than half of babies born in developed nations in the 2000s can expect live to 100 or beyond, according to the medical journal The Lancet. And if you were born before then, your life will likely be a lot longer than you think.

A new book called The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity got me thinking about this.

Authors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott are from the London Business School. They look at how anyone at any age can and should plan for their greater life expectancy, turning the extra time into “a gift and not a curse.”

When lives were shorter, people lived a three-stage life – education, work and retirement. These stages were compartments that didn’t overlap.

As early as 1978, Richard Bolles wrote about them in The Three Boxes of Life and How to Get Out of Them: An Introduction to Work/Life Planning. He advanced the idea that you needed to incorporate all three stages across your entire life.

He also wrote What Color is Your Parachute? It was chosen as one of the 100 All-TIME best and most influential non-fiction books published since 1923.

With how quickly the world is changing, Bolles’ advice was and is spot on.

  • We need to embrace lifelong learning, actively developing new skills as technology and globalization accelerate.
  • We need productive work to provide purpose, meaning and economic sustenance throughout our lives.
  • And we need leisure time to enjoy our lives and the people in them, and to refresh and renew ourselves.

Gratton and Scott explore this concept in writing about the interplay between tangible and intangible assets. They define an asset as “something that can provide a flow of benefits over several periods of time.”

Tangible assets “have a physical existence” and include things like housing, cash and investments. Intangible assets are things like “a supportive family, great friends, strong skills and knowledge, and good physical and mental health.”

The authors say that intangible assets are “key to a long and productive life – both as an end in themselves and also as in input into tangible assets.” They divide them into three categories of assets – productive, vitality and transformational.

One of these intangibles – a productive asset along with skills, knowledge and peers – is your reputation. “When a company has a positive brand, or a person has a good reputation, it is much easier for others to interact with them,” the authors say.

“A good reputation can be enormously important as it enables your valuable stocks of skills and knowledge to be really utilized in a productive way,” they continue. “It can also have a profound impact on your professional social capital.”

Why? “A good reputation will be one of the assets that enable you to expand your horizons,” the authors say. “It is the combination of portable skills and knowledge and a good reputation that will help bridge into new fields.”

They go on to write that “over the coming decades, it is likely that reputation will be based on a broader range of inputs. As future careers embrace more stages and more transitions, then inevitably this will create a broader range of information.”

Enter social media.

“Social media will increasingly broadcast your image and values to others and allow others to track and monitor performance,” they say. “So it is inevitable that you will need to curate a brand and reputation the covers far more than just your professional behavior.”

Everyone will need to signal their skills, their capabilities and their values during a longer life that potentially has multiple transitions. And transitions can take many forms – from one functional area to another, from one company to another and from one type of work to another.

Social media makes it easy to do this.

Over time, you can share your skills and abilities through many platforms – a Twitter feed, a YouTube channel, an Instagram stream, a LinkedIn portfolio, a Snapchat story or a personal blog. And these platforms will continue to change and evolve, with new ones emerging over time.

If you want to make your life’s transitions easier and more fulfilling, then social media is a must. And this doesn’t mean being on a few platforms to share photos with family and friends. A deliberate strategy and a plan for your personal brand in social media is imperative.

But where do you begin? Which social media platforms should you use? How do you curate and create content without it taking over your whole life?

Those will be the subjects of several upcoming posts.

Is Everyone Faking It?

Business People Meeting Growth Success Target Economic Concept

Yes, everyone is making it up as they go along.

And that means you can, too, as you work toward your biggest goals.

I’ll tell you why in my post on the USC Annenberg Alumni website.

I’m a proud Annenberg Alumni Ambassador this year, sharing all the best of this distinguished school for communication and journalism.

Some of my fellow ambassadors, pictured below, were featured alums at the Annenberg NETworks event this fall with students and recent grads.

What a fun evening it was, full of interesting people and fascinating conversations.

#FightOn!

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Binge Watch Your Way To New Skills

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Who doesn’t love binge watching a favorite show?

Whether it’s Game of Thrones or Billions, watching multiple episodes in a single sitting makes the experience more intense, rewarding and fun.

That’s a fun part of working for at the company that provides DIRECTV. Whether it’s the DIRECTV app or a programmer app with the subscription, it’s easy to stream great content on a mobile device.

It got me thinking about how binge watching might apply to online learning. Could it make learning more effective? More efficient? How about more fun?

And why was I pondering this question?

A Fortune 10 CEO was recently quoted in the New York Times on reskilling people for the future. “There is a need to retool yourself,” he said, “and you should not expect to stop. People who do not spend 5 to 10 hours a week in online learning will obsolete themselves with the technology.”

(Full disclosure: I work for this great company. Opinions in this blog are my own.)

While it’s true that small steps add up to big changes, it’s possible to accelerate learning by binge viewing great online courses.

As an example, for professional certifications that require ongoing education, binge viewing online courses is highly effective.

Why?

  • It eliminates the inefficiencies of starting and stopping courses.
  • It amplifies learning by increasing the ability to see patterns and make connections between seemingly disparate concepts and information.
  • And a significant amount of learning can be completed in a relatively short time, fueling more motivation to seek out further coursework.

As I rectify my accreditations in public relations and human resources every 3 years, this strategy has made ongoing learning more efficient and more fun.

And it’s worked well for a series of marketing essentials courses I co-created with colleagues in my new career role. And for several weeks my action-item list has included “complete this series of online courses.” But somehow it didn’t happen. Until today. And here’s why.

Schedule time. The 5 online courses I need to complete are 90 minutes each, totaling 7.5 hours. Have you ever found a full day without meetings that you could commit to online learning?

Earlier this week I looked at my schedule and saw I had a few open late afternoon hours on a Friday. So I booked it for 2 online courses. Which then became 3, as I was pulled into the reward of completing course after course.

It was much easier to click into that next course as long as I was already online, in a comfortable place, and with a few hours of time I’d blocked out.

Make yourself comfortable. Maybe there’s a comfortable chair in your workspace. Or a standing desk. Or even a treadmill desk. What would make the environment even better? Your favorite coffee beverage? A healthy snack?

Focus on the course. Find a quiet place. Close your door if you have one. Turn off email and text notifications and other sounds on mobile devices.

Enjoy the experience of focusing intently on only one thing. Research shows that humans can’t multitask anyway, as much as we delude ourselves into thinking that we can.

Write notes on key points. Listen for 3 key takeaways. There’s magic in the number 3. It focuses your thought processes and forces you to prioritize what you heard and saw.

Taking notes on those key points helps to solidify the learning, especially if you hand write them. And you have something you can quickly refer to when you want to refresh your learning.

Take one immediate action. Of those 3 key points, what’s one thing you can put into action right away?

As part of my PR recertification, I listened to an IABC webinar on the art of social media by Guy Kawasaki. That’s how I discovered Canva. It makes anyone, including me, into a graphic designer. Many of the images in this blog are from Canva.

Given the need for all of us to prepare for our next career, why not binge watch your way to a new skill?

Do You Have to Be Bad at Something Before You Can Be Good?

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When you’re learning something new, there’s often an expectation that you’ll pick it up easily. That it will be smooth sailing. That you won’t skip a beat.

After all, the world moves faster every day. The competitive landscape is more intense than ever. Time is in short supply. It’s one sprint after another to learn what you need to know. Learning curves can feel like vertical climbs.

But when in your life have you learned something new and performed it perfectly right from the start?

As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in the book Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes about 10,000 hours to master a skill.

The hard part is the feeling of incompetence that comes along with learning. Two things happened this week that made me think more about being bad at something new.

First was reading the work of Erika Andersen in an HBR post, which was the subject of my blog post yesterday. She wrote about how to identify the next skills you should learn.

In that was an angle on having to be bad at something before you can be good. The important thing, Andersen says, is to continue on through the bad phase so you can get to the good.

In fact, it’s the subject of her new book coming out this winter called Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future. Sign me up. The pre-ordered book will download on my Kindle app on March 8.

In a Forbes post that may have inspired the book, she gives great strategies for How to Get Good at Things By Being Bad First. One of them is managing your self talk and being deliberately encouraging in how you speak to yourself.

That brings me to the second thing that happened this week. I’ve been trying different yoga classes, looking for 2 to do consistently each week. In addition to the serenity, stretching and balance benefits, I’m training to do paddle board yoga in the spring and summer.

And I’m moving through being bad into being good. One of my yoga instructors gave me a little smile this week when I at last managed to transition into Warrior II with the correct arm in front.

And my first experience with stand up paddle boarding last fall left me with a patch of broken skin on my thumb from holding the paddle the wrong way. The skin healed, and I figured out a better way to paddle.

Something the teacher in yesterday’s yoga class said made a big impression on me. He advised us not to condemn, judge or demand. If we let go of these mindsets and expectations, we will be calmer and happier.

These could apply to others. They could also apply to ourselves. By letting go of judging ourselves and demanding perfection, we are more free to experiment and learn.

That’s what Andersen is saying too. Most everyone will be bad at something when they first start. But by having faith in your ability to persevere and learn what you need to know, you can get good.

Another great book, What To Do When You’re New by Keith Rollag gives strategies for you to perform new things in front of people who aren’t familiar to you. Focusing on learning and getting better, rather than being good right away, is a great tip.

And his HBR article on being new gives good guidance on asking questions: consider what you want and why, determine whom to ask and if the time is right, ask short to-the-point questions and express thanks.

It’s humbling to recognize what you don’t know and what you need to learn. To try to ask the right questions, even when you don’t know what you don’t know. To take a crack at doing the new task. To learn from and recover from the inevitable mistakes. To start building competence.

This is what I’m doing in my new career role in marketing. This is how I navigate new community leadership roles. And this is how I approach my exercise classes. It’s not easy, but I keep moving forward.

As I learned from my yoga teacher, don’t judge yourself or demand perfection. Be kind to yourself and let yourself experiment. You’ll achieve much more, much faster and much better than you ever thought you could.

The Learning Project

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What activity captivates you? Completely absorbs you? Compels you to do it no matter what?

For me, it’s writing. And reflecting on the first year of this blog, it’s about learning.

And I have a lot of learning to do. Don’t we all?

I started this blog to explore corporate communications – leading the function, the field and the future.

Now I find myself with the amazing opportunity of pivoting into marketing.

Of course, corporate communications and marketing have many parallels.

In communications, the focus is on the benefits of any given topic, initiative or program. Its purpose is to influence beliefs and actions. It’s about leading change and transformation. And it’s about business performance.

Those attributes also apply in marketing. Yet at the same time, I’m learning a new function, a new language and a new culture.

The usual cliches apply. Drinking from multiple firehoses. Feeling like part of Lucy’s famous chocolate scene.

There must be a better way – to identify what to learn, how to learn and how to do it fast.

Beyond that, I’m grappling anew with the big question from college – what do I want to do with the rest of my life?

It’s an eery deja vu feeling, as a parent of two teens. What will they need to know as they become adults?

At the current pace of change, an HBR blog post projected that “you have to recover one-quarter of your college education every 5 years.”

The authors gently suggested devoting 3 hours a week to learning and preparing for the future. While the math worked out to 6 hours a week, 3 seemed more realistic.

As I invest time in learning, I’ll write about it in this blog. It’s my learning project over the next year.

A blog is supposed to have a laser-like focus on a single topic. But as technology makes our lives more transparent and interconnected, I’ll address multiple learning topics.

Each month I’ll focus on an area of marketing and an area about life. That’s my approach to work/life, because they’re one in the same and not two separate spheres. One influences the other, and vice versa.

With thanks to Nina Amir, I did a mind-mapping exercise (pictured) this weekend with sticky notes on a poster board.

On this learning journey I’m also inspired by Gretchen Rubin. Her year-long happiness project was part of my last post, To Feel Good, Do Good.

And although I don’t (yet) have a detailed roadmap or a perfect plan, I’m taking to to heart the wise words in Just Start.

I’m taking a step forward and learning as I go.

Make Room for Something New

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“You have to let go of something to make room for something new.”

Author Cynthia Oredugba (pictured, right) shared this and more at a Women of AT&T Southern California fundraiser for scholarships.

Led by chapter president Georgia Zachary (pictured, left), the event was held this weekend at Marmi at The Point in El Segundo, Calif.

How did I find myself there?

For the last year I’ve led the DIRECTV Women’s Leadership Exchange – an employee resource group for professional development, networking, mentoring and community service.

DIRECTV was acquired by AT&T this summer, creating the world’s largest pay TV provider and a video distribution leader across TV, mobile and broadband.

Among other things, our employee resource groups are coming together. This is how I found myself listening to Cynthia Oredugba talk about change.

“You can’t get better by staying the same,” was another truth she shared that struck a chord.

It reminded me of the DIRECTV Leadership Development Program I attended two years ago.

At the end of a life-changing week, I realized I’d only thought I had a big dream for myself in becoming VP of Corporate Communications.

Coming out of the program, I was energized by the idea of pivoting and stretching into a new area – whether that was investor relations, operations, marketing or something else entirely.

But it wasn’t until the transformative coming together of AT&T and DIRECTV that an opportunity would arise.

Three weeks ago, I moved into a marketing role. It centers on the customer experience, consumer research and the vision for the future of the marketing organization.

This speaks to the opportunities that come from change. And from being part of a newly combined company. And among leaders with a commitment to talent mobility as a way for people to grow and contribute.

It also allows me to explore for the first time my full spectrum of the high-scoring artistic, social end enterprising parts of the Strong Interest Inventory. This career assessment tool links personal interests with a variety of career fields.

I’ve long seen Human Resources, Corporate Communications and Marketing along a related spectrum of careers that blend the qualitative and the quantitative, design and data, and people and products.

Having spent many years in Corporate Communications and HR leadership roles, I’m thrilled to have an opportunity in Marketing.

And now the hard work begins. Applying previous knowledge to new situations. Addressing new business challenges. Adapting to new norms.

It’s a good thing I love learning. Because there’s going to be a lot of it in the near future. And we all need to be constant learners, whether or not we’re changing jobs, functions or companies.

Thankfully I work with a lot of great people who are more than willing to answer questions and share insights.

As I dive into the new role, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the many parallels between what I used to do and what I do now.

And that’s been the best learning of all. You don’t have to let go of something you’ve loved as you move into something new.

You just have to let it evolve into a new state. It’s about combining what you’ve done with a commitment to lifelong learning to inform what you do today – and tomorrow.

12 Steps to Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning

The world’s information doubles every 12 months. Americans change careers 7 times over a lifetime. And your toddler or teen still doesn’t come with instructions.

With ever-present change, how can you learn what you need to know in a new situation?

1. Set goals. Decide what you need to learn. Determine what problem you are solving for.

2. Make a plan. Think about how you could best go about learning what you need to know. Identify a few learning sources and draft a brief plan.

3. Talk to people. Ask questions. How did they learn what they know? Would they be willing to sit down with you and walk you through a new task or explain a process?

4. Read. Check out blog posts, articles and books.

On my Kindle reader is What To Do When You’re New. We’re “new” more of then than we think we are. It could be a new job or a new class we’re taking.

If you’re starting a new job, The First 90 Days gives an invaluable road map. It’s worthwhile to do the exercises and answer the question prompts.

5. Stretch. See if there’s a new project you could take on at work that will give you an opportunity to accelerate your learning objectives.

6. Take a class. Go back to school, with MOOCs, your company, local adult education, community college or university extension.

7. Watch a video. Check out TED talks and YouTube videos. Download the apps so you can watch a short video whenever you have a few extra minutes.

8. Make connections. Think about how what you already know relates to what you’re learning. See if there are enough similarities to accelerate your learning.

9. Learn by doing. Put your learning into practice. Adopt the Cal Poly San Luis Obsipo mantra of “learning by doing.”

That’s why I’m on Instagram. I wanted to experiment with communicating through images rather than words.

10. Make your own internship. Take inspiration from Robert De Niro’s character in The Intern. Figure out what needs to be done and go do it.

At my new company, there’s even an app for that. Leaders with projects needing extra help load them into the app. Team members pick a project, learning new skills and getting to know colleagues in the process.

11. Ask for feedback. Ask people what they see that’s going well with your learning plan and where you could do better. Make course corrections based on what they say.

12. Be fearless. A few years ago we introduced social collaboration into our workplace. It represented a new way to work, and it wasn’t one I was familiar – or comfortable – with.

However, I pushed through uncomfortable feelings. I asked questions, even if I thought they might be viewed as stupid. And I was willing to make mistakes.

That’s why I started my first blog, internally, a few years before this one. I needed to “learn by doing” so I could help other leaders do the same.

And a few years later, nearly 90% of employees had adopted a new way to work with social business. That was worth all the awkwardness and the errors along the way.

How are you becoming a lifelong learner?