Personal/Professional Learning Network

Thought Leadership Goals

Recently entering the workforce, I am learning how to become a professional and thought leader in my industry and field. Quickly after graduating from school, I started a position at a nonprofit where I assisted with IT training. After a year and a half, I sought a position that would allow me the opportunity to fully dedicate my time and energy to training. I am now working for an acquirer, or payment card processing company, as an Operations Trainer. This new field has been very intriguing and switching into this industry has been a huge leap from my prior position.

As a young professional, I am doing my best to find ways that I can continue to grow personally and professionally. I am also working to find ways that I can contribute as a new employee to our organization’s success. Currently, I am bringing fresh ideas to the training classroom. I’ve already started working to make our trainings more engaging by diversifying our activities, finding ways to involve our trainees in topics that are relatively dry to present, and creating new activities. I’ve also worked to increase the professionalism of our classes. For example, something as simple as laminating cards with important terms for activities rather than using handwritten sticky notes has already increased the professionalism of our courses.

I would love to one day lead a training team. One goal of mine is to become more confident in my leadership abilities.  As a trainer, I work closely with the leadership team to ensure that our training can help the organization meet its goals. As a global organization, and with multiple locations throughout the country, I would love to become a thought leader in eLearning. Currently, our organization is looking to standardize our trainings throughout multiple locations and to incorporate more eLearnings. Though I feel some resistance to eLearnings because I thrive off of close relationships and face-to-face interactions, I know our organization is wanting our employees to take more ownership over their own learning. More specifically, I want to learn how to create eLearnings that are engaging and that fuel the curiosity for our employees. I’m a firm believer that a curious employee will engage with the training and will perform better in their roles. I believe becoming a thought leader in these areas will allow me to influence our organization’s success and will push me to become a more marketable trainer.

Personal / Professional Learning Network (PLN)

Both my personal and professional learning network continue to grow. Recently accepting a new job, I entered into the payment card industry. This competitive and growing industry brings new challenges and opportunities. As an example, our material, processes, and systems are highly confidential. It can be difficult to share and network in this type of industry.

As an operations trainer, I focus primarily on training new employees on the industry and our organization. My current professional learning network consists of following leaders in our industry, such as my own organization TSYS, and leaders in training and development, such as Association for Talent Development. I’ve also expanded my network to human resources by following Human Resources Certification Institute. In the past, my professional learning network as consisted mostly of my coworkers and a few mentors that have spent years in training and development. It’s been exciting to learn how to use social media accounts to expand your network and learning. I’ve dedicated my Twitter account to following thought leaders in the industry and my field. Expanding my professional learning network has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of our industry. It has also increased my confidence in the movement to eLearning. Our organization is currently moving to eLearnings to standardize our trainings across locations and to allow the learner to take ownership and responsibility of their own learning. Following leaders in the industry, it’s clear that eLearning continues to grow.

One of my goals is to focus more on my leadership skills. Following HRCI allows me to stay up to date in the latest HR and management trends and concerns. I’ll occasionally read case studies, or reports, to thoughtfully consider my own leadership abilities. I’ve also followed Sheryl Sandberg, an author and female leader in the workplace, and Ted Talks to further examine my abilities and see the latest news in leadership.

My personal learning network has also grown. As my passion for running has increased in the past few months, I’ve learned the importance of finding motivation, staying up to date on the latest news, and seeking reviews on gear, races, and trails. Following Runners World, Garmin, and even professional athletes such as Shalane Flanagan and Meb Keflezighi, has drastically increased my love for the sport. I feel more informed about good habits, training techniques, and even gear. Surrounding myself with positive influences in the running community has fueled my love for the sport. I have a personal goal to finish my first marathon in January. Expanding my personal network via Twitter has really helped me stay on track throughout my training process.

Role of Base Camp Site and Networked Learning Space (NLS)

My Base Camp Site will continue to grow throughout my career as I establish myself more in my industry and my field. This site offers the opportunity to showcase my work, talents, and passions in one space. Rather than just submitting a resume, my Base Camp offers more detailed information, examples, and projects in a creative way. Though my online portfolio is still in its beginning stages, I know that as I continue to complete projects, take courses in this program, and engage with other thought leaders and ideas, my Base Camp will flourish.

Though I’m not currently seeking another position or job, this site will need to be updated so I can continue to showcase how I am growing in my position and in my industry. At my current company, there are multiple levels in the training department. I recently joined this organization and am learning that it’s important to showcase how you are improving in your position. I know that I can present my Base Camp at my annual reviews and when I feel I am ready to advocate that I am ready to be promoted to the next training level.

Plus, as a trainer, I am always seeking a reminder of the impact and importance of my work. Displaying the work I am most proud of in one location just feels good! Personally, I love to remind myself of how much I’ve grown in my career in such a short amount of time.

Continuously reevaluating my Base Camp and Networked Learning Space will help me gauge my progress on my thought leadership goals and set new goals. Showcasing my work in one location allows me to look at the bigger picture and evaluate my progress and growth in the field.

Strategic Plan for Establishing Web Presence

Creating my personal website and portfolio was refreshing and rewarding. Viewing my personal goals, accomplishments, and thoughts in one place has allowed me to thoughtfully reflect and set new goals as I continue in my career. The success of this website and portfolio is dependent on my commitment to keeping my material current and organized. My thoughts on how to continue establishing my web presence are below.

#2: Regularly update your professional website: I struggle with updating my website and my information. For example, it’s common to forget about your resume until you actually need to present it. Updating my site every month is a realistic and achievable goal. Though I’ve struggled a bit with blogging in terms of my personal comfort level, I want to challenge myself to thoughtfully reflect on my progress as a trainer and on the challenges in the field. To do this, I’ve set a calendar reminder on the first day of every month to update my website and resume. The reminder should help me stick to my goal and track my progress in my career.

#3: Track your traffic: WordPress has useful tools to track traffic. Once logged in to your account, you can click on your stats.  In general, you can track when users are visiting the site and which pages are visited. You can also view a map of where those users are located. I’ll need to continue to add and share content to improve my traffic. Checking this when I update my material on a monthly basis will allow me to track my progress.
#5 Publish your work via social media sharing sites: I have really struggled to share my thoughts on social media. Sharing my work outside of work and the classroom setting has been a stretch. I am slowly getting more comfortable sharing my opinions in my personal life, but I do so conservatively. I anticipate that with time I will become more comfortable sharing my work, especially when I am more confident in my industry. My twitter account will be linked to my website portfolio. Tweeting more of my work will be a good way to become more comfortable sharing my work and thoughts.

#6 Leverage Social Networks: In general, I do not share my thoughts on social media often. Especially if my thoughts are critical or negative. In the beginning of this course, I was convinced I would continue deleting my social media accounts. I have really enjoyed using Twitter to learn more about my industry and training. I have learned that with discipline social media can be used productively for your career and personal goals. I want to continue to follow more thought leaders and organizations that are making an impact in the payment card industry and in the training and development field. Twitter and LinkedIn will be my social media outlets for professional development and networking.

#7 Be a good user of others’ content: Though I am not yet as confident or comfortable with outwardly sharing and posting my opinions, I have found that sharing and commenting on other posts has been rewarding. I will typically comment to share my own opinions or retweet to engage with others on different topics. Personally, I find that commenting and supporting others is just as important as creating your own posts.

#8 Complete all Profiles: Some of my social media accounts have been dedicated for professional connections and learning. I have set up these profiles to display important information such as my work experience and accomplishments. I have other accounts that I use more personally and post information about my personal adventures. I have reviewed all of the settings to ensure that I display information that is most relevant to that platform, though it’s important to review and keep the information updated with any changes.

Privacy Concerns and Strategies

Privacy, especially in the online community, has been a growing concern. I’ve learned to only post information, photos, and projects that I’m proud of. At a young age, my parents taught me the impact of posts and they monitored my accounts for many years. At the time, this was a bit annoying. I felt like I couldn’t share my true thoughts and feelings. Looking back now, I’m glad they taught me to be conservative with the information I’ve shared.

Within the past few years, I’ve struggled with how social media impacts authenticity. In fact, I’ve really been resisting and distancing myself from most of my accounts. It can be really frustrating to only see everyone’s highlights and it’s important to remind yourself that there is a life outside your accounts.  Personally, I’m not as concerned about privacy because I’ve learned to be cautious of how I participate in different online communities. I’ve also dedicated some of my accounts to professionalism, and others to sharing more personal information. Learning the settings and limitations of each platform has been helpful in understanding how my information is being used.

With my professional accounts, I chose to follow organizations and individuals that are leaders in the community. This helps me stay tuned in to the current news and updates in my field. I’ll often share articles, findings, and even talks on topics related to my career, my industry, and even some of my personal interests, such as running and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This allows me to showcase my interest and commitment to my field.

With my online portfolio, I’m most concerned with how I can share my projects. I work in the Payment Card Industry, which is an industry where the content is highly protected and secured. As a quick example, each door is secured and requires badge access, flash drives are not allowed, and all content, notes, and documentation needs to be in housed in locked drawers. This means that many of my work related projects are not able to be shared. I’m currently exploring options on how to display my work, without breaking any policies in my organization.

Next Steps with Social Networking

I’ve learned a lot about acceptance throughout this course. I was honestly frustrated with my social media accounts and had been deleting most of them over time. I found peace deleting my accounts because I was in a state of constant comparison when I’d login to these platforms. This class has taught me how to use these platforms in a constructive and professional way. Plus, I also learned that I compare myself in person just as much as I was comparing myself online. I learned that instead of blaming the platforms for my insecurities, I could take control of how I decided to use these accounts. Needless to say, I’ve come a long way these past few months.

I would love to continue to find thought leaders in my field. The more accounts I follow, the more I am linked to others. In particular, I have dedicated my Twitter account to keeping up to date with the latest news in the payment card industry, training and development, eLearning, and running. I want to continue to use my Twitter and find new users to follow. For now, rather than activating new accounts, I want to continue to structure and secure my current accounts. In order to continue to establish myself as a thought leader, I want to post and repost new articles and talks more frequently on my Twitter, LinkedIn, and my online portfolio. This will contribute to my online presence.

I also want to continue the conversation with my company regarding how I can present my current projects. Navigating those security guidelines has been extremely challenging. With that said, I want to continue to expand my online portfolio. I think revisiting the site every other week to post updates, upload projects, and continue structuring the content will lead to a professional and noteworthy website. Now that I am starting to establish myself on Twitter, I also plan to link my Twitter feed to my online portfolio to showcase that I am consistently engaged with other thought leaders in the industry. Overall, I hope to improve my presence by posting more often and I want to continue to learn how to use these platforms productively. This course has provided me with the tools necessary to continue to grow in the online community.