It’s the month of May in Indianapolis, so what better metaphor for celebrating the completion of our circle than a checkered flag! (Never mind that we actually finished in April…)
Our final meeting was just as inspiring as the first. I think we all felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment at completing the entire 12 weeks. While none of us made as much progress toward our goal as we had hoped, we all still felt like we had learned some valuable new techniques and had definitely seen progress.
One of the values of participating in a WOL circle is that it a wonderful learning experience made more impactful by the partnership and support of the other circle members. I think one thing all of us would have done differently is around setting our goal. Over the course of the 12 weeks, we all made adjustments to our goals if not changing them completely.
For my next circle I will definitely spend more time with participants on selection of a goal to help them get the most out of the experience. Here is what I learned both through my own and my circle members’ experiences.
Choose a simple goal. The point of the circle is to learn a different way of working and building a network. The goal itself isn’t as important as being able to successfully try out and begin incorporating new techniques into your work style.
Choose a goal where you already have a few connections. I found that trying to build a network from scratch was a really big undertaking. It also made it more difficult to practice making contributions. It’s much easier to feel comfortable approaching someone you know rather than someone who doesn’t know you at all. The techniques you practice over the 12 weeks can definitely help you to grow your network and move from an intimacy level of 0 to a level of 1 or 2 and that ‘s definitely progress. However, I think to really make progress toward a goal it would help to have some people with whom you have an intimacy level of 3+.
Try to give yourself at least 5 hours a week to work through the exercises and work on your relationships. I know, that sounds like a lot of time, but I found that the weeks where I invested the most time were the weeks where I made the most progress. Carving out the time really wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. I tended to spend some extra time at work at the end of the day. It was quiet, I didn’t have any distractions and it gave me time to focus. I know that won’t work for everyone but do try to find some time you can carve out for yourself.
Be willing to experiment and try new things. Over the course of our 12 weeks, we all had the opportunity to try new things and see what worked. I really didn’t do much on Twitter before but found ways to use it for both professional as well as personal interests. Several of our members hadn’t done very much with our internal enterprise social network and became not just converts but advocates. Use this as an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone and try something different.
So, what comes next? One of the best things I got out of this experience is the wonderful relationships I’ve developed with my fellow circle members. We have all agreed that we want to keep in touch. We will be getting together in a few weeks when our member from Italy is in town on business. We also want to try to reconnect every couple of months. I know that these are people I will always feel a special connection to.
I definitely want to start up another circle group. I just wanted to finish writing up my experiences from this circle first. (Done and done!) The only thing I haven’t decided just yet is whether my next circle will be at work or with an outside group. I’m really looking forward to doing this again with a different group of people. I’m sure each circle experience is as different as the individuals in the circle. If you are interested in starting up a circle and looking for a participant or a facilitator, please keep me in mind.