Can't stop, Won't stop learning
One of the things I miss most about working with a team is the opportunity to learn from their experiences and understanding. As an independent consultant, I do get the opportunity to learn from my clients - learn new systems, new tools, new standards. Fortunately, I'm an absolute nerd.
I've always found learning fun. I was happy to read and learn as much as possible in school and I didn't stop there. I used to be the person who was always talking about a recent book I read. Then it was a TED Talk I watched. Now it's a podcast I'm listening to or a new sub-reddit I'm following. With the sheer volume of information at our fingertips, learning is easy to do everyday.
In one of my first jobs out of graduate school, my supervisor set up an ongoing project to facilitate learning. Together, our team would put on monthly lunch-and-learn events. One of us would facilitate, and lead the group through an activity or group learning on a certain topic. It was a great way to learn about a little bit of everything. Most topics were related to our industry or skill set, but others were completely outside our wheelhouse, exposing us to different ways of thinking.
That type of group exchange is kind of impossible now that I work for myself. I do have my business besties who I regularly connect with for both accountability and information, though they don't work in the same industry. And I have industry friends.
But for learning? Real industry specific best practices and tools?
For that I have to pay. Business development training does not come cheap. Of course, I'm happy to, because I know it will help me deliver a higher quality service to my clients. (It does make me question if there could be a better solution at a lower price point...) I want to learn about what's at the forefront of the sector, and I knew exactly where to go to get it.
This week I'm participating in Shipley Associates's Capturing New Business course. It's an in-depth look at the capture process, offering a true understanding of the best practices in capture planning and implementation. It's a refresher for me, having participated in a corporate training on the topic years and years ago, but it's so incredibly helpful.
Feeling those gears turning in my brain is revitalizing. It's helping me reconnect with the best possible solution - rather than the emergency/putting out fires/panic solutions I see so often in my clients. Not to bash my clients - the reality is just so far removed from the ideal in business development. Coming back to the concrete tools and practices, I can really see how they would be helpful.
This continuing education offers two things: a newfound energy in myself and an improved service to offer clients. Well worth the investment.