Internet training courses might not help you

Trainers are available on all sorts of Internet subjects. Want to learn how to do “SEO” (search engine optimisation)? well, there’s a course on it. Like to discover how to “monetise” your web site? There’s a course on that too. Perhaps you’d really like to learn about corporate blogging. Well, guess what, you can have a training course for all your staff on that as well.

However, new research on obstetricians confirms what I’ve long suspected – that training courses themselves are of little effect on their own. The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine shows us that training courses had little impact on the practice of doctors.

From old to new

Here’s what they did. The researchers wanted to see how doctors changed their practice from the “old ways” to better, more modern methods. In one group of hospitals, everyone was put through their paces on a training course. A second group merely had one doctor who was trained who then had to “spread the word”.

It turned out that where “spreading the word” was four times more effective in getting a change in practice than training everyone. So why might that be? Two reasons. Firstly, the message was delivered via a “social network” of peers, making it seem more “natural”. Secondly, the new information was delivered by someone the doctors knew and trusted – one of “them”, rather than some unknown trainer.

Learn from your friendsThe implications of this study should not be underestimated. We learn more from our peers and our social groups than we might think. Indeed, think about how you learned about numbers. Was it at school? Or was it as a toddler with your Mum singing songs like “one two three four five, once I caught a fish alive” and counting out Lego bricks with you? Numbers are learned socially. How did you learn language – in a classroom, or by learning from those around you? Yes, you’ve guessed it – socially.

Improving your online business
So what does this all mean for your Internet plans? The study suggests yThe same is true for what we learn about the Internet and how to apply it in our business. We discover more things by talking with our peers and colleagues about running an online business than you ever might in a formal training course.

ou need to mix with other businesses doing the same as you. Go to networking groups in your industry; make sure you are in all the relevant associations and club, join online social networking groups, like the Internet Marketing Club, to share your knowledge. Social learning is much more likely to have an impact on your business performance than formal training.



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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
RT @SteveHeadSpeaks: Thanks to @GuidesForBrides for having @ChrisHeadMagic at #ukwedconf @MiltonHillhotel learning from the best @grahamjon - 10 hours ago
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