I am in Denver this week at the ATD International Conference (ATD.org). Here you see my colleague and I pointing to our session this afternoon. We have been planning for months and all our hard work pays off this afternoon at 4:30.

I have spoken internationally before, and those opportunities have come to me through my network. For this opportunity, we had to apply last year. It was a rigorous process and the application was thorough. We submitted video samples, a content outline, and how our topic fits into the overall conference. Then we had to wait several months to see if we were accepted. We found out we were accepted and have since been working on our session content. We checked out our room yesterday, and it seats 500 people – yikes!

I am an old dog who has had to learn new tricks in terms of social networking/learning. I did not grow up with these tools and have had to force myself to learn them. At first I wanted to avoid them because I did not see how my world would be better by using the Internet. I am a VERY busy person who thought I could do without all this stuff…buy was I wrong. Making the move to Social Learning (which is our topic for the conference) has opened up an a entire world for me that I would not have imagined. In order to receive what the Internet had to offer, I had to get over my fears and prejudices. 

I had to be willing to say I have no idea what I am doing. I had to lay down my own expertise in other areas and know that I had no expertise in this area…which was both humbling and scary. Internally I wondered if people would think less of me that I did not know what I was doing. I also was scared that I could not figure all this social media / social learning stuff out. My fears were for not in that people were glad to help and I also realized that I did not have to be an expert in order to join the conversation. I had to be willing to learn, fail, try again, and figure out how to do it better. I also had to rely on people who know more than me (and will also was know more than me) and let them guide me through their knowledge. I started this journey back in 2008 and have been at it ever since. 

I have been overwhlemed in a good way in how I have been contacted as a speaker for this conference. I have been interviewed for international online magazines, I have been invited to speak on a panel discussion, contribute to pod casts, and have been asked to contribute to international content. My online network has grown exponentially and people stopped me in the hall at the conference after looking me up online…holy cow! Who knew that stepping out to speak AND updating my world online could prodcue all that activity. 

There will always be new things, new technologies, new tools, and new ‘stuff’ that you will encounter professionally. It can be daunting and unnerving. My encouragement for you today is to take the plunge, give it a go, step out and learn something new. You will be pleasantly surprised about what you can learn and how it will make your life better. If you don’t try, you don’t know…do not let the voices and fears in your head prevent you from the excitement the world can bring when you work at something new.