Part of owning a business is continually learning and growing as a business owner. That often means finding paid resources, like courses, to help you learn a new skill or run your business a little differently. Online courses–like my Networking Ninja course–are popular right now but maybe you’ve never taken one before (or you haven’t been successful with it in the past) and you want to get the most out of a new online course this time.
While taking initiative is important, opening it up and diving right in isn’t the best next step.
Here are the 6 Steps you should follow that will allow the course to provide the most value it can. Not just for today but in the future too.
Online course setup
Upon registration you probably got a couple of emails. Look for an invoice and your personal login credentials including the website, your username and your password.
Set up a system to capture this information so you can find it easily. It may be a file on your computer. It may be a folder within your email.
I use Gmail so that I can always access my courses regardless of which computer I’m using (or phone or iPad). I have a master folder called Training Courses and underneath I have sub-folders labeled with each course. When I’m done or no longer accessing the course on a regular basis, I just hide the labels. The folder is still there but hiding it keeps my email sidebar cleaner. So only my active courses are visible.
What is your objective?
Once you’re all set up, review in your mind or write down on paper exactly what end result you are expecting from taking the course. This will keep you focused and attentive so you can capture information specific to your goal.
If you’re keeping a notebook, write the word “Objective” as the very first note. Then jot down your intentions – what you want to be able to do as a result of the course.
Set aside a specific time to properly go through the program uninterrupted.
You want to be fully present when you take your online course. That means no distractions. No email, no phone calls, no Facebook. Be fully present so you don’t miss any of the nuances or specific comments that could be the golden nugget you were needing.
You’ll see by doing this you’ll actually go through the course faster and you’ll capture all of the valuable information. You’ll be in a learning zone and this will allow you to uncover ideas and applications that might be missed if you’re distracted.
Start at the beginning
Avoid confusion and frustration and resist the urge to jump ahead and start in the middle of a program. You may feel you’re well beyond some of the introductory topics in a course but there’s a reason the instructor set up the course the way he or she did. If you start in the middle, you may miss one sentence or one point from the beginning that’s a treasure. Without it, you may miss a big outcome of the course.
If you stay present and aren’t distracted, you can quickly get through the initial portions and move on to new concepts knowing all your bases are covered.
Then continue through the course in order. Most programs are built to be sequential. One module builds upon another. You may lose time having to go back to find or learn something you didn’t know you needed.
Participate in all add-ons
If your course includes a private Facebook Group or another opportunity to connect with others taking the course, by all means join in. Some of the best learnings are in these groups.
Discussions come up on topics you may never have thought about. The responses and subsequent conversations can be extremely educational.
Plus there is an added opportunity to meet people. These relationships could possibly become the most valuable part of taking the course.
You’ve completed the online course. You’ve learned a lot. NOW, how are you going to apply what you’ve learned to advance your business? What are you going to implement or do differently?
This is where many people fail. Yes, a big “F” in the course! You need to act upon what you’ve just learned. Otherwise, what was the point?
Create an action plan to use what you now know. If it is going to be a change in the way you do things, remember it takes time for it to become a routine. That means you consciously have to integrate it into your daily activities.
In your plan, write down exactly what you’ll do differently. Make it specific and obtainable. You may want to create a list of things you’d like to change. Then select just one. Get that going and move on to another.
So many of us (myself included) have gone through courses or attended conventions, and then get back to our routines and move through the days as we always have. Status quo. Doing this is a waste of your investment – both in time and money.
A final point about the online course
To help make this process smoother, I’ve created a checklist for you that walks you through each of the steps we’ve just discussed. If you’d like this added tool, download it here.
This is Part 2 of a two part series covering online courses. If you missed Part 1 you can jump to it here. It covers how to determine whether a specific online course is a good match for you.