I don’t know about you but I felt that through the time of months of COVID isolation, I did more professional and personal development than I have ever done before.
Not to make light of the situation that many find now find themselves in, I have mentioned that I am one of the lucky ones where this period of time has not been exceptionally difficult.
After all, I work three days a week in an area that supports business and organisation to work remotely. Also I don’t have children to home school and I have a husband whose work was considered “essential services” which meant I didn’t need to share my space with him.
As a homebody which is my usual state of being, I did have pangs of missing travel and of course I missed my parents and family but all things considered, I was one of the lucky ones and I didn’t take my situation for granted.
Over the period of lockdown, I did a lot of reflecting and writing in a journal and I realised a lot of things.
One of them was that I have a fantastic personal learning network and it’s high time I acknowledge, support and give back to them out especially when many now have had client and project work suddenly dry up OR lost their job due to COVID.
Allocating a Learning Budget to Your Own Personal and Professional Development
When I was working in corporates some years ago, I used to allocate my own annual budget for my own Professional Development. It had nothing to do with day-to-day work nor did my manager or team have a say.
Why? Because it was my money and I controlled the way I wanted it spent.
I spent my budget on books, subscriptions, courses, downloadable resources that I used and referred to. However, sometimes it wasn’t always on ‘tangible’ stuff like that. Other times I donated funds to PEOPLE who shared valuable articles and information that I continually referred to. (For example, Patron accounts, paid email subscriptions or Fund Me pages or Pay Me with a Cup of Coffee).
I know at this time, there are abundant FREE resources online at the moment and you might be asking, “why pay?” however, take a deeper look into what you’re using and referring to.
There are many people who generously share their resources because they love the subject and they love their community. For example, they keep their podcast ad-free because they’re doing it for the love however, in order for us to keep listening to them – and for them to keep it ad free – there will come a time when they will decide they need to monetise in some way.
We will be seeing a lot of this lately and although my BC (Before Covid) thinking baulked at this, my AC (After Covid) thinking is now all for it.
At this time, many people have lost their jobs and livelihoods. They will need to find ways to derive an income. It’s highly likely that many people will never again find work at their previous levels. Some will find this a scary thought others will find it liberating.
Similar to how you support your local business by being patrons, I would now say, turn to your personal learning network and see who has offered you advice, support, resources over the year and commit by paying them back in some way whether it’s buying their resources, buying their book, donating a sum of money, or taking them out for lunch or dinner – something, anything.
It’s now your turn to be generous to them.
Also if you’re not in a position to pay, then do something else that I have been doing for some time.
That is, seriously reconsider stopping curating your social networks to show a ‘professional narrative’ about how you want others to perceive you. Instead, share whatever you want – whether you would buy these services yourself or not – especially if there are people in your network who may benefit from knowing about them and their services.
It’s time to put your questions of ‘how will this look to my network if I tweeted out that my friend reads horoscopes and that she’s looking for people who want their horoscopes read? It may affect my professional credibility?”
Guess what? Put that thinking aside. So you read horoscopes yourself and you’re a professional – so what? Help your friend instead. Don’t worry about keeping up appearances anymore. Those days are gone.
My Decision Matrix
So if you’re still not sure about how you can allocate a budget for yourself and then use it towards supporting someone from your network, here are some questions you can ask yourself.
If you answer Yes, to most of them, it’s high time to consider returning the favour to them in some way.
- Have you referred to their work (articles, videos, resources etc) in your work (publicly or not)?
- Do you share their work to your social networks?
- Do you consider them a role model in their field or yours?
- Do you “stalk” them (in a nice way) across their social media channels?
- Are they self-employed? (If yes, by all means help them!)
- Are they mainly people who don’t have a huge following, celebrity status or sit behind a big brand/sponsor/vendor?
- Have you asked them questions publicly in social networks or direct messaged them with requests for information or to ‘pick their brain?’
- Have they not asked for anything from you in return?
- Have they books, resources, content, articles, curated collections they share?
- Have you met with them in person or online and expressed how you admire their work and/or thinking?
- Have they got a free email distribution list?
If you pretty much answered Yes to all or any of these, there’s your prime candidate for helping them out.
What Can You Do?
Here is a simple list of things you can do to help your personal learning network:
- Write them a LinkedIn Testimonial
- Share their work across to all your social networks
- Direct message people in your network to set up invitations to connect
- Introduce them to your network
- Pay and download their resources on their website
- Pay for a service that they offer
- Buy their book
- Provide a testimonial on their website for their service
- Provide a testimonial on their Amazon or other book site
- Give them a donation
- Pay for their email subscription service
- Send opportunities that come across your desk (that may not fit you) to them
- Provide a video testimonial about how their work has impacted you positively
- Like their videos or content they share (click a ‘Like’)
- Respond by commenting on the content they share
- Subscribe to their YouTube channel
- Subscribe to their Podcasts and Follow their podcast channels
- If you can’t go to a conference and you’ve been given a free ticket, share yours.
- Share opportunities, competitions, and other things that may be of interest
- Attend any events they hold
- Respond to their requests, messages, emails, phone calls.
Do you have any more?
I’m sure there are LOTS more.
It’s time we returned the favour to our personal learning networks and help them out at this time if they are struggling to get work. I think it’s just common courtesy.
If this article was simply too long for you to read, here’s the short video instead!