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Changing Perspectives – Simple Methods to Connect and Grow

I belong to several associations, communities, groups, and classes of professionals and professional colleagues. Collectively, the relationships of each are priceless in helping me stay connected, informed, and knowledgeable about myriad issues relevant to my clients and my business.

Association memberships offer access and introductions to professionals with common industry-specific issues. Mine range across defense and security interests. Associations can offer access to others in the industry, as well as to federal agency officials who buy from industry. Service providers of all walks can usually be found among association members. This industry ecosystem is too rich in information to ignore.

Communities in which I participate are primarily of the online type. Occasionally, some meet in person, but infrequently. These are closed communities of professionals with common interest, wherein there is a clear trust factor in place and colleagues come to find answers and share lessons learned. I am in the process of bringing such a community of my own to life throughout 2021. It will launch more formally in Q4 this year. Stay tuned to learn about The Big Top.

Master classes are hugely popular right now. People gravitate toward them to learn from a master. Throughout 2021, I am leading such a group although I am not the master in my case. Master classes can form around any common interest: art, business, music, or the economy, for example. In the master class I am leading, I invite people to join me so they can share their talents with the group. Think of it as a reverse-master class. The participants provide the value; I facilitate the engagement. The variety of issues the group will discuss is only limited by our imaginations. We meet monthly. It’s not a big time commitment.

I participate in another smaller group of consultants of all types from across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. We are all entrepreneurs driving our own businesses, each with very different clientele. Together, we learn from and help each other consider our plans and objectives more thoroughly. We meet quarterly.

LinkedIn is replete with groups of professionals sharing common interests. You likely belong to some, but may underutilize what the membership can bring. Do you “follow” groups, or do you participate and lead with your professional thoughts? It is incredibly easy to stimulate a meaningful exchange, thereby allowing LinkedIn to deliver more for you.

Online discussions in support of online learning. Many know I have been taking classes in pursuit of a higher degree. I am within weeks of completing my MPhil in Public Policy and Administration as part of my pursuit of a PhD in PPA. I’ll refer to it as my pandemic degree going forward. It has been 20 hours a week well spent. The breadth of classroom discussions from students across the globe is fascinating – and truly broadening. It takes me well outside of my own bubble and helps me see my world through another’s eyes.

This is not a “look at me” post. It’s meant to trigger self-reflection. Are you putting yourself out there to continue to learn and grow? How structured is your professional growth? Are you stagnating in place? Would your peers and subordinates offer the same answer?

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