Continual learning experiences are important to any business owner. It doesn’t matter whether you have an online business or an offline business – learning is something that you’ll need to do for the rest of your life if you want to become and stay successful. Thankfully, continuing your business education can be a fun social experience if you involve yourself in collaborative learning opportunities.
Finding Learning Communities
* Social media – Use social media to access local groups online. Start with looking at what groups the people you know on Facebook are taking part in. Once you join a few groups on FB, you’ll be exposed to other opportunities to join more communities. LinkedIn also has many groups and opportunities to learn with others. Participating in discussions online this way and in forums is a great way to participate in collaborative learning.
* Local groups – There are many different types of groups to become active in locally. Your local chamber of commerce, the women’s business center, your local chapter of SCORE, or the Small Business Majority, are all ways that you can find collaborative learning opportunities that will help you learn more in your business.
SCORE – http://www.score.org/
Small Business Majority – http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/
* Industry events – If you read industry publications, you’ll be notified of industry events and opportunity for collaborative learning events. Sometimes these are weekend retreats, other times you can take part in members’ only online forums that help you learn from your peers and competition.
* Mastermind groups – These are usually very small groups that you have to be invited to from someone who is already on the inside. You will likely discover these types of groups from your participation in the above. If you get a chance to take part in a mastermind group, choose one that represents more than just your own niche so that your learning will be broader.
Creating Learning Communities
* Inner circles – Do you have a strong following among your audience? If so, create an inner circle. This can be a new income stream, too. All you need is a discussion forum to get started. There is software that can help you such as SocialGO or aMember with a bulletin board system of some sort.
SocialGO – http://www.socialgo.com/
aMember – http://www.amember.com/
* Social media groups – It’s easy today to start your own social media group with Facebook or LinkedIn. If you have a following at all, invite a few core people to join the initial group. Choose broadly from various niches so that you can learn from each other. Then ask questions of the group and encourage others to as well.
* Local Meetup events – Via Meetup.com you can organize and plan your own collaborative learning communities around any topic that you want to. You don’t even have to be the leader, just the organizer. Many people who like to share, network, and learn will sign up for your small Meetup event.
* Teach a course – It might sound counterproductive to teach a course to learn collaboratively. But, it is amazing what you can learn from those whom you plan to teach. Plan a course around something you are an expert in, and then always give time for your students to speak up and talk about what they know. You can teach courses and classes by renting a location to do it or check with your local community college or university to see if they let the public teach lifelong learning courses.
Collaborative learning opportunities abound both online and offline. If you keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground, you’ll find out about more opportunities to learn with others such as small events online and offline, inner circles, group coaching and more. When you put together several people from various industries and with different specialties, you’ll be amazed at what the group can accomplish and learn together.