Getting started with Working Out Loud

This week I joined my first working out loud circle. It was great. I’ve told lots of people about my experience, so naturally people have asked me “What is it?” “What is a circle?”

working out loud, john stepper, WOL, Jive World
John signed my hard copy at Jive World in 2016. Now i’m finally experiencing my first circle.

What is Working Out Loud?

Here’s how John Stepper describes working out loud taken from his website:

Working Out Loud is a way to build relationships that can help you in some way, like achieving a goal or exploring a new topic or skill. Instead of networking to get something, you invest in relationships by making contributions over time, including your work and experiences that you make visible. Your contributions over time are what build trust and deepen a sense of relatedness, and that’s what increases the chances for cooperation and collaboration.

To me the concept of working out loud comes quite naturally. I’m an over sharer, I tell everyone what i’m up to all the time. I manage an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) i’m constantly contributing to relationships across Pearson to support our business goals.

But what has spiked my interest in learning more, was the promise of deepening relationships. Sometimes I feel like I have a vast network, it stretches to every corner of the globe across diverse companies and cultures. But how deep are those relationships, what do I offer the people who follow me on Twitter, what am I giving back to the connections i’ve made on LinkedIn and am I bringing my whole self to work?
If you are new to Working Out Loud John shares a simple way of approaching it:

The practice starts with three simple questions:

  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • Who’s related to my goal?
  • How can I contribute to people to deepen our relationship?

Picking a simple goal makes it purposeful, and orients who you choose to build relationships with and what kinds of contributions you might make. Instead of networking to get something, you lead with generosity, investing in relationships that give you access to other people, knowledge, and possibilities. Your contributions can range from recognition & appreciation to sharing learning, resources, and original work that might be helpful to others.

Last year I made a commitment to Work Out Loud. I did work out loud, I shared a lot more of my experiences, interesting content on social media that I thought others would enjoy. I started a blog about my travel experiences with my family The Godbers Travel.

But I missed the point. I didn’t ask myself those three simple questions.
Towards the end of last year I started to revisit the book and was asking myself how can I get involved? If I was to ask myself the three questions, what would my answers be? And then Simon Fogg contacted me. I’m a firm believer in fate it felt like it was meant to be and January is a good time to start new things.

What’s a working out loud circle?

One of the best ways to start is to form a Working Out Loud Circle. That’s a peer support group of 4-5 people who meet for an hour a week for 12 weeks. You can meet in person or via video. Both work well.
In your Circle, you each pick an individual goal you care about, and short, simple guides help you find people related to your goal and develop relationships with them. By the end, you’ll have developed a larger, more diverse network and a set of habits you can apply toward any goal.
The guides are free, and are available in English and German. You can connect with WOL practitioners around the world – and even find Circle members – in the private WOL Community on Facebook.

You can generate a circle on your own, you can reach out in the WOL community on Facebook to start one. You can do it with acquaintances, colleagues or complete strangers.

My WOL Circle is part of a wider group. My circle is made up of 7 of us. We meet weekly via Zoom and share between sessions using Workplace by Facebook.

I’m largely caught up on what I missed in the first week. I have a goal, i’m now working on my relationship list.

It is quite normal to adapt, refine or change your goal. It is your goal after all and you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of circle. This week i’ve changed my goal. My goal felt too big and when I gave it some serious thought, 12 weeks didn’t feel like a very long time to make significant progress.

My goal is…

To define my career achievements to date: this will mean updating my LinkedIn profile to reflect my skills, capabilities and who I am. I will also update my CV, to reflect the same.

Phew that felt quite momentous, it is out there i’ve said it out loud beyond my circle.

I’ve also ordered the book Designing Your Life – Build the Perfect Career, Step by Step written by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Check out the video on YouTube. I will let you know how I get on.

wol, working out loud, Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett, Dave Evans,
This was one of the first recommendations i’ve had during my Working Out Loud circle. Looking forward to reading it.

Over the next 10 weeks I will keep you updated on my progress and welcome any feedback.

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