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When you’re new to L&D, asking for virtual coffee can be scary, but why not do it anyway?

Networking in L&D

A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to connect with my LinkedIn network.

When I write the word “connect”, I don’t mean that I just wanted to add more connections. I wanted to really connect. As in have a conversation with people who I was already, technically, connected to on LinkedIn.

L&D virtual coffee

I didn’t know if anyone would respond. To my pleasant surprise, my schedule filled up for the next week or so with 30-minute “virtual coffee” meet-ups (and one or two actual coffee meet-ups with some folks in Seattle). Some of these chats were with former co-workers I haven’t spoken with in years. Some chats were with folks I’d been connected with on LinkedIn for years but had never actually spoken with. And some of the conversations were with people new to the field of L&D, and who were looking to break into a role in training and needed a way to start networking in L&D.

The Gift of Virtual Networking in L&D

In all of my conversations with those folks who are new to L&D, I encouraged them to reach out to other folks in the field and have a similar “virtual coffee” with them. There are lots of people in the field with lots of good information and experiences to share! Each of these folks new to L&D told me how intimidating that doing something like that – reaching out to strangers on LinkedIn – could be. I totally understand that. Afterall, even when I know people at a networking event, I still haven’t quite mastered the art of walking up to someone and just starting to talk with them.

I’m glad that there were a few people new to L&D who were willing to take the risk, reach out, and say they’d be interested in chatting. I hope they learned something from me… I certainly learned something from each of these conversations.

Your Call to Action!

If you’re reading this and you’re new to L&D – maybe you’re a teacher looking for a career pivot or you’ve been in an L&D-adjacent role for a while and now want to jump in full bore – and you’re wondering what roles are even out there, how do other people break into L&D, what you can do to prepare for an upcoming interview, or you just have curiosity about what it’s like to be in L&D, I extend an invitation to you to connect – here is my calendar. Let’s grab virtual coffee, and let’s nerd out for 30 minutes!

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