I recently attended a SHRM meeting where Ben Eubanks was the speaker. Ben writes the excellent upstartHR blog and was addressing the topic of social media in his presentation. Ben had some innovative and useful ideas to share relating HR and social media, but what struck me the most was his comments about networking. The slide pertaining to networking said, '"You are the average of your five closest friends." Jim Rohn' His discussion on networking led him to share information about the HRevolution conference that he and others started to facilitate idea sharing among HR professionals.
I talked back in December about the value of a mentor. One of things that I mentioned in this blog was to find someone to talk about ideas. Not people, or things, or tasks, but ideas. I realized that now that my professional mentor has passed away, I have been missing my idea sounding board. I need to be refueled with some great idea generating, and I need to find a core group or person to have this idea recharge.
Sometimes we are so caught up in our business and personal to-do lists that our communication with others is so task-based and surface level, whether it be at work or home. Our five closest friends, or the people that we interact with the most, seem to thrive on just transactional information and talk.
We don't make ourselves any smarter when we sit around and talk about, well nothing truly important, to be honest. I'm a firm believer in surrounding myself with people that are smarter than I am, and I have a ton of people around me who are a lot smarter than I, but if I don't take the time to engage in conversations that discuss ideas and learning, I don't benefit from their genius.
So, even though Ben said jokingly in his presentation that maybe we all need to find five better friends that we can be the average of, maybe we need to try to talk to our five friends about things that make us more than just work cogs or gossips. Maybe we don't need to change our friends, just our conversations.
Either way, here are some ideas for facilitating "idea" conversations:
1. Find a mentor and schedule a standing time to talk with him/her at least once a month about things going on with your work and their work, the business world around you, and any ideas you have. If your company doesn't have a mentoring program, see if you can start one.
2. Follow ideas and thoughts online. Read blogs and write one.
3. Attend professional development opportunities whether it be by joining your local professional association, logging on to a webinar, or attending a conference. Don't stop there, start a conference, like Ben and his HR friends did.
4. Read a book. Write one.
5. Start an idea sharing board at work. There are several online tools/programs that are useful for this such as Sharepoint.
5. Most importantly, take time to actually talk to those that you interact with the most at work and do it in person. If you encounter a problem at work, talk it through with a colleague. If you notice a team member working on a new project, ask them about it. If you come up with an idea to make your work simplier, talk through it with a peer.
I know I have advocated for many virtual idea sharing mechanisms, but get out from behind your computer, and talk to people about ideas. It's the best place to start.
What and who invigorates you with great ideas?