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Rod Webb

Glasstap Limited

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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Do You Have a Virtual Support Team?

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TEAM – Together, Everyone Achieves More. I love this acronym as it very simply describes, in a nutshell, the value of a team. The trouble is, that trainers often don’t have the luxury of working as part of a team in the traditional sense – we might, for example, be the only trainer in an organisation, or a self-employed training consultant. 

The trainer’s role can therefore feel surprisingly solitary sometimes. Although we spend a lot of time with other people, helping organisations identify their training needs and delivering training or coaching, we can also spend a lot of time behind the scenes on our own, thinking about how to make training memorable and engaging, how to ensure learning needs are met and how to evaluate training. And we might spend hours trying to find inspirational ways to get important messages across, developing brilliant new training exercises and writing the supporting notes. (Though, of course, if you're a Trainers' Library customer, you can expect to save 80% of the time you'd otherwise spend on design.)

In reality, we can all reach out to other skilled learning and development professionals and network. The skill is in learning to do this effectively, sharing generously and by doing so, establishing a mutually beneficial 'virtual support team'.

The virtual support team that I've developed over many years is an invaluable resource - a group of professional friends that I can turn to when I want a second opinion, some honest feedback or when I need to tap someone's particular expertise. 

This week's Insight looks at a few things you can do to develop your own virtual support team.

Forums

Get involved on forums like Trainers' Library Talk (free to all Trainers’ Library members). I’m really proud of our forum and the way so many of our members engage with it. Personally, I prefer closed groups like this because they do have a real sense of community which encourages responses that are genuinely helpful rather than focused on marketing the respondees product or service. 

Whever forums you engage with, the important thing to remember is to not just ‘get involved’ when you need something, but to actively look for opportunities to help others. People will remember this and it’ll stand you in good stead when you’re looking for feedback or help yourself. Pay it forward.

Social Media

Use SocialMedia like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to engage with others. And again, pay it forward. This means don’t just tweet your own news and marketing but look for opportunities to really engage with others and build on what others are posting. (By the way, if you’d like to follow us on Twitter, it’s @glasstaplimited).

Networking Events

Attend networking events. The CIPD run local events but there are others too. For many years, I’ve made time to attend Trainers’ Exchange, organised by friend and customer, Nicky Davey. (Despite the name, there is no connection to us.)

I’ve often used these events as an opportunity to share ideas with other trainers and at the same time test some of our new Trainers’ Library exercises and get valuable, and honest, feedback on them. Some of those who regularly Trainers’ Exchange are now customers as well as trusted members of my virtual support team.

Surveys

Taking part in surveys related to learning and development can be useful too. Those conducting the research will almost always share the results with those who participate in the project and this in turn might help you develop your understanding of a topic. Talking of which, here's the results of our recent survey about how icebreakers are used.

Blogs

Blogging is a way of sharing your ideas, skills and experiences with a wide audience. Always try to give your readers something genuinely useful that they can use – something that makes them think, include your contact details and encourage them to enter into dialogue with you. Who knows where it might lead? 

Training Events

Finally, attend events. Attending workshops provides not only a great opportunity to learn new skills that you can use, it also gives you the opportunity to see another trainer in action and to meet other people in a similar role to you. 

Talking of which, there are still a few places left on our next Cartooning for Trainers workshop in Birmingham on the 15th September

Rod Webb

I love feedback, of all kinds, so please do leave a comment below. 

Author Profile Picture
Rod Webb

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb
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