Last month I stepped out. Way out. Like many people the thought of public speaking to a large group of your peers is daunting. Yet, I did that. A few weeks ago Mike Collins, DPG’s Community Manager asked me to come along and be the sprinkles and topping for his presentation at the Peer Awards where he had entered the DPG Community in the Technology for Engagement category. With strong reservations I agreed but only because I believed in the cause.
Rewind 14 months. Having arrived in the UK here with only 2 years experience as a trainer my public speaking experience was limited to small groups of people who hung on my every word for the sake of missing a vital piece of information. In those days I knew my content. I set the agendas. I decided on how the session would run. I, I, I, I, I………….the Peer Awards were all about collaboration, Mike, the DPG Community. It was about illustrating the impact that the DPG Community.
Rewind 10 months. Having arrived in the UK without any contacts, minimal experience in the L&D world, no networks in the industry blah blah blah, finding a job was only just marginally less frightening than publicspeaking. Through LinkedIn the acronym ‘DPG’ kept appearing with a positive brand association. I enrolled in their CIPD Level 3 L&D Practitioner course. Prior to the course commencement date I was given a logon to their ‘Community’. With a glass of wine, the fire on and laptop on knees I logged in. Within seconds I heard the ‘bling’ of the chat box opening……..’Hi Sam. It’s Mike Collins here’. This Community and Mike (the self confessed ‘Geek with Pom Poms’) became my virtual career and learning partner.
I felt the warmth. I felt the community spirit. I felt the support. I started to feel confident. I revamped my CV in a creatively risky fashion. It was a bit off the wall and not down the standard CV lines . I sent it to Mike via the Community. He supported my ideas. Phew! Again, I felt the support. So off my newly designed CV flew into the virtual world of potential employers.
In the meantime, I kept logging into the DPG Community every evening (some times in the morning too just to see what had changed during my slumber. Okay, okay perhaps I logged in at lunch time too. These things can get a tad addictive). Mike had created a group for all of the students I would be studying with. Naturally I entered to get a taste of what I was in for. I was hesitant about going back to study, let alone in a new country where I could spotted as the alien as soon as my Australian twang filled the air. I was pleased to connect with many like minded people. I met a single mum who was scared about hitting the books again. I met al ‘older’ woman who thought that perhaps she had already reached her intellectual potential. I met a young man who had entered the L&D World but thought that he needed the course to build respect at his work place. Their words were different but their stories were the same as mine. Big sigh. Every thing was going to be okay.
Throughout the course the community was used for live Q&A sessions by our amazing facilitator, Howard Rose. He posted articles, documents, useful links and other course related information. Mike instigated discussions, forums and bulletin boards. When I had questions about the course itself (not just the content) I used the Community to find the person who could directly give me the answer. It was always my first port of call.
Back to the CV sub story of this blog. My newly designed CV was well received (Phew! X2) and a couple of weeks later I landed an interview for an L&D role at the FMCG Multinational, Unilever. With newly found confidence in hand, I set off to the interview and was offered the job on the spot. Win!
Reality check – L&D role in an awesome company that is family friendly, doing a course that I love with awesome people. How did all that happen so fast?
Fast forward to present time…………….Course contact time done. Assessments nearly done. My time using the Community no where near done. It’s called a Community for a reason and it’s not just a social media buzz word. It’s value cannot be put into a spreadsheet. You can’t write a formula with support, belonging, encouragement, confidence building, networking etc that then calculates the infamous ROI figure that companies are forever seeking.
So when Mike asked me to publicly speak at the Peer Awards I was happy to accept. I felt almost indebted to the DPG Community. I wanted to endorse something that I believed in. The DPG Community does what it says on the box. It builds Communities. End of story.