These days knowledge is only a click away, but sometimes the best way to get it is from the people around you.

We are fortunate to have so much information at our fingertips. In a couple of words and a click of a search button, I can find out, again, how to upload a video to YouTube. Easy, quick and a time saver.

No arguments there. But, are there times when it’s better to seek out a person, someone who is in the know?

We are running a fine balance between connected and disconnected learning. What do I mean by that? Well, we can certainly get the answer to a question quickly to whatever we search, but are we getting the whole answer?

Take for instance gardening. Tons of information online about that. However, an in- person conversation may yield unexpected results. Perhaps, in the minutes it takes to get the answer, your source shares location specific information. Maybe planting one strain of plant over another because of the soil type produced the best results.   You probably wouldn’t think to ask that.

You might have the information but missed the knowledge

Furthermore, you also would miss out on the enjoyment of conversing on a shared interest. These days, reports of increased loneliness are on the rise. Connecting in person to gain the information you are seeking is good for your mental health. Instead of remaining sequestered in your own little kingdom, venturing out to talk to others helps you feel better.

Within our workplaces, I think how often we miss the chance to get to know our co-workers because we seek knowledge elsewhere. Somehow, their distance, even if it is only across the hall, has become an obstacle. So, we choose to stay put and once again, risk only getting some of the information we need, instead of the whole story.

Conversations do take longer, no question, but embedded within them are other threads of knowledge that may come to light given a chance. We might also find ourselves digging deeper or tucking something away for future reference. And, that point of connection, perhaps with someone you didn’t know very well, enhances your feelings of connection in your workplace.

The knowledge keepers might just be your next mentor

Finally, the other place I see as a real benefit to seeking in person knowledge, is in acquiring informal mentors. Now you may jump to the conclusion that this is a younger to older pathway, but I would encourage you to give that another thought. My work friendships and yes, even mentorships in some cases, have included co-workers a couple of decades or more(!) my junior. They bring a fresh perspective, recent knowledge from their schooling and ask good questions. They also have an understanding and comfort level with new technology that I may never have. The benefits of youth perhaps!

Regardless of your work situation, try to find some opportunities to seek out those in other offices or departments. Get to know them from a wider perspective than their job description. Find out about their interests and hobbies and as you do so, consider that you are increasing your searchable knowledge base. It will require more than a click, but the investment is worth your time.

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