Who said immersion learning only applies to foreign languages?
If you’ve ever completely absorbed yourself in an activity or topic, you’ve experienced immersion. You know practically everything there is to know about said topic. Why? Because you were that interested in it.
Think back to when you experienced young love or perhaps, a new love. You couldn’t get enough of your partner, could you? You wanted to know everything about him or her. You invested your time because you believed in the other person that much.
What is the one key factor you need?
Intense desire. (Who said B2B couldn’t be sexy?) Seriously, if you aren’t interested in your topic, you will be distracted more easily. You have to enjoy what you’re doing or learning about. Only work on projects you relish.
If you enjoy B2B copywriting and want to become an expert, you would welcome the opportunity to practice it, watch or listen to webinars, read articles, and talk about it — whatever your favorite niche is. Concentrating on one niche at a time will enhance the stickiness for that niche in a shorter period of time.
I have an intense desire to learn everything I can about public speaking. I listen to CDs in my car, practice speaking at Toastmasters meetings and elsewhere, read about it, go to live events, and analyze speakers on DVDs that I watch. In addition, I’ve expressed interest in becoming the chair of a Speakers’ Bureau next year. You can learn quickly by observing what everyone else is or is not doing. I may not be on the same level as Tony Robbins, but I consider myself to be an expert at my level.
Expert status can be obtained at multiple levels.
A common fallacy describes an expert as knowing everything, not being able to learn more. Actually, an expert refers to someone who has achieved mastery of a subject at a specific level. Once he masters one level, he can choose to conquer the next one or not.
With a new love, you learn how your partner behaves on several dates, you advance to meeting his friends and family, and so on. You may decide to simply remain friends and not pursue a stronger relationship. Or, you may decide this one is the love of your life. Before you advance to another stage or level, you have already learned quite a bit.
What are the benefits of immersion learning?
Based on my experience, immersion learning can benefit you as follows:
- Shorter overall time commitment. Bite-sized learning of 10 minutes here and there will cause you to spend more time reviewing past material, so learning takes a longer time overall. Commit to larger blocks of time to anchor the new knowledge in your mind. You could carve out a weekend to study just one thing, for instance.
- Greater stickiness. Using a variety of resources and methods enhances your learning and drives the knowledge home.
- Ease of maintenance. Once you’ve “learned” material to the point of mastery, you don’t need to study it as intensely to remember it, unless you choose to do so. Professionals who rely on muscle memory need to train continuously, however.
- Easier access to other experts. If you were an expert in web design and someone asked you to explain HTML from the ground up, would you groan? Unless you were paid to train, you probably would want to converse with others more knowledgeable about the topic.
- Enhanced well-roundedness.
- Ease of communication at social events. Instead of knowing only superficialities, you’ll be able to probe a topic in-depth.
- Ability to earn more money.
What might immersion learning look like for a B2B copywriter?
Here’s an example … I belong to a volunteer group which needs to revamp its website. I’m in a position to not only provide copywriting services but to contribute toward the final design.
While we could simply hire a web designer, I see it as an opportunity to become more knowledgeable and conversant in web design for my own business.
I certainly don’t expect group members to wait until I become a web designer. Instead, I gather others’ thoughts about their expectations, requirements, and needs. Meanwhile, I review books regarding WordPress, since the site is based on this program. I also log into the backend to add content and to study how the original designer put together the site. I talk with others more knowledgeable than I am.
My goal is to reach a level whereby I understand the terminology, can decipher enough verbiage and code in the backend to be useful, and to develop a basic understanding of the capabilities of WordPress.
Then, I hope to be able to ask intelligent questions and to provide specific parameters to a web designer who could do the initial re-design.
Would I have to learn to this degree? No. I choose to do so because of my long-term goals and because, quite possibly, I would maintain the site and create instructions and procedures for others to do the same.
For me, the timing is critical. We want to overhaul the site with everyone’s buy-in by the end of 2015. I’ve committed to learning, teaching, practicing, and organizing all at once to achieve my goal and theirs.
I have found I enjoy the bigger picture of web design more than the minutiae of coding. Being able to troubleshoot is one thing, tapping into my creativity, another.
When I am able to converse about web design without doubt and without having to look up every other detail, I will know I’ve become an expert at the level I chose to attain.
In short, you have to know what you want, where you’re going, and take decided steps to get there.
My immersion process includes a lot of reading, study, observation, conversation, and practice. Yours might include chat rooms, forums, and group collaboration. Use whichever methods you choose that provide variety, alternate perspectives or angles, and actual experience.
If you find your brain going numb, take a break. Let your mind cogitate and percolate all of your newfound information. This may look like work. Believe me, just like with a new love, it won’t feel like work because you’re pursuing a subject you love and enjoy.
Once you’ve obtained your goal, the maintenance phase will be easier, for the knowledge you gleaned will already be a part of you.
When will you become an expert?
Think of something you have always wanted to learn. Immerse yourself this weekend. A weekend may be all it takes to catapult you toward greater mastery of a topic. When you start on new material only to find out you’ve seen or heard or read that before, then you are well on your way to expert status.