Learning Specialist Sarah Ratcliff Solutions
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How to raise your L&D profile and become a great role model for professional development

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Have you ever wondered who is looking after your professional development whilst you help others achieve theirs? Sarah Ratcliff shares helpful tips on how to bolster your professional development activities while simultaneously raising your L&D profile.

7th Jun 2021
Learning Specialist Sarah Ratcliff Solutions
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In learning and development, it can often be the case that we are so busy helping others, that our own professional development takes second place.

As L&D professionals we should showcase the many different ways that development can take place. For some it is attending training sessions, reading, being mentored and having coaching. There are so many ways in which we can learn, but we can sometimes end up feeling like we are helping everyone else learn but ourselves.  

Being at the heart of training, resources, storytelling and learning models can make us feel like we’re knowledgeable about many things. However, knowing about something and being highly skilled in it are not the same thing. For us to be truly skilled we need time to apply new skills, just like those who consume our learning initiatives.

When we are continually helping others, we can get left behind in having the time to practically apply new skills or have time to reflect on how well they are developing.

Who can help L&D develop?

Part of the challenge is that we are known for being the knowledge gatekeepers and so in reality it can be difficult to know who to turn to. Many learning and development professionals work alone, so nobody else in the organisation really understands our needs or are reliant on us providing the development. There are others who work in small teams who are working in a way that makes it harder to ask for help with personal progression.

One of the great benefits of working within learning and development is that there is an amazingly generous community who are willing to share their knowledge, understand that to challenge will help you grow and will nudge your thinking. There are many who are generous enough to give time to mentor, support and guide.  

Embracing the learning community to support your own development is a great starting point to learn more, raise your profile and become more confident.

Start getting involved with the learning community and those who share common goals. There is so much you can do to be more visible.

Perhaps you have never considered the advantages of networking and how it can not only raise your profile, but also open doors to new people who will support your development? It’s easy to shy away from networking, especially when the true benefits are not fully understood. It is so much more than small talk and gaining new connections. 

To get involved with the learning and development community is to make yourself visible. You have an opportunity to be useful to others and, in doing so, raise an awareness of who you are, what you do and get involved with people who will support and challenge you. 

Be authentic and get involved

Networking is at its best when you try to be useful, relax and enjoy the experience of meeting new people. Be your authentic self and you will notice the difference that networking has on your community, profile and personal development. Your voice will grow stronger as you enjoy your newfound allies who speak a similar language to you.

Start getting involved with the learning community and those who share common goals. There is so much you can do to be more visible. We know that learning happens in great conversations, so contribute to conversations that resonate with you. Others will be able to learn from you. Offer to help others, take the time to mentor someone, get involved with research, surveys, interviews and every opportunity that comes your way. 

Don’t be a spectator in this lively arena of learning and development.

Most of us who work in learning, love to learn. That means we are listening to the latest trends, listening to podcasts, interviews and webinars. You can raise your profile by letting people know when you have enjoyed something. There is no need to be a silent spectator. Everyone loves to hear when they have influenced your thinking or inspired a new process. So, tell them… get in touch and say why you enjoyed it, what they did and how it helped.  

Future L&D leaders

Get started

Here are a few ideas of how you can develop yourself and then start building new relationships. 

  • Read books and discuss 

  • Join in with webinars and create a social thread saying what you liked

  • Listen to podcasts and share your thoughts

  • Join a social networking group for learning professionals such as #LnDcowork, #LDInsight, #WomenInLearning to name but a few

  • Enter for an award just for the learning experience

  • Join learning and development organisations such as The LPI, CIPD, eLearning Network and many more

  • Always ask questions 

  • Take up a mentorship as a mentor or mentee.

Relationships build and grow

Once you have stepped out and connected with someone new, the seeds can begin to flourish. You will have thinking allies, confidence confidants and mentors who want to see you get success. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to keep the conversation moving. Be generous with your recommendations. If someone has impressed you, tell them and tell your personal community.

When you are feeling confident in some new relationships you can ask for feedback from learning professionals who you respect. This will really move your development forwards. If you can, get feedback from many people so you can identify trends in how you can take your learning and skillset to the next level. 

In a nutshell

Don’t be a spectator in this lively arena of learning and development. Get involved in the conversation, reach out for selfless reasons, give of yourself and you will be surprised at how much people value your contribution. 

The outcome will be that you raise your profile, new opportunities will develop and you will develop a broader scope of influence and knowledge. If this article has inspired you, then reach out and make the connection. You won’t be disappointed in making a new connection.

Interested in this topic? Read 'Five tips for future L&D leaders.'

 

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