I am a big believer in learning by doing. Being an auditory learner myself, I don’t always need to, but whenever possible, I do. Learning by doing activates the kinesthetic part of one’s brain and puts all the pieces together, visual, auditory and physical. The best way to learn a new skill, is by taking a workshop in which you get to practice the skill you are learning. The best teachers know this and use it in their daily practice. But we also learn by experiences, good and bad. This applies especially well to shows.
When we, as adults, are going to learn something new, we need to keep a few things in mind.
First, is to observe everything. I can’t tell you how many workshops I have been in where people (including myself) are so eager to finish the project, they don’t listen to the instructions or they don’t bother to watch the demonstration. This is a huge mistake. The instructor is teaching for a reason, because they are an expert in the skill. We as learners need to take advantage of that. Take in all details and if you need to, write them down so you can look back on them later. When you are learning something like selling your product at a show. Observe how people react to the information you give them. You may find that something you know as fact and deal with every day, others may find extremely interesting and surprising. Observe who comes into your booth and stays to chat or make a purchase. I have found that husbands are an untapped market at most shows. So, when a husband or boyfriend comes into my booth, I am sure to say hello and casually mention what great gifts earrings make.
Secondly, Ask Questions. If you don’t understand, ask. So many people go through a conversation not knowing just because they don’t want to appear unintelligent. This is absurd! I feel that the indicator of a great mind is one that knows that they cannot possibly know everything. In a workshop setting, you paid to understand the skill so you should understand it when you leave. I like to leave a workshop with such a complete understanding, that I could do it by myself at home. In a show setting, asking “how did you hear about the event?” is a valuable way to figure out if the show has been publicized. Also, asking if the person is looking for anything in particular saves them time if you don’t have what their looking for and helps you to show them certain items they may be interested in. Asking questions of your customer and being genuinely interested in their answer makes you a great sales person and gives your customer an excellent experience.
Lastly, Reflect. I know this sounds a bit corny, but I’ve found it very valuable. In a workshop setting, after the workshop is over, I like to sit down and run through the steps of the skill in my head. Thinking through the logistics helps me to see if there are any gaps in my learning. If so, I like to research the skill or process and if need be, ask for help. After a show is over, I do a lot of reflecting on my drive home. I think about how many sales I made that day. If I got any custom orders, I plan out when those are going to get done. And I think about the customers that came out that day. When I get home, I write down my reflections to look back on the next time I go to apply for that show.
Being a great learner is just as important as being a great craftsman. When I start to think about it, they really go hand in hand.