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Training Wisely

All instructor-led training has value, even if it merely reinforces what you already know or gives you a new perspective. Typically, a successful training experience teaches you about a product, technology, or process--but sometimes leaves gaps for you to fill in on your own later. To ensure a successful experience, determine your training goals before the training begins. Some examples of effective training goals include:

- gaining enough knowledge to pass an exam

- learning enough about a product or technology to implement it effectively

- learning about specific problems that you're experiencing

When you establish goals before the training begins, you can make the most of the time you spend in the classroom. In the classroom, take the following steps to further ensure a good experience:

- Get the instructor's full name and contact information in case you have any questions about the material later. Email is probably the least intrusive way to pose any questions.

- Take good notes and keep any handouts the instructor distributes. With note taking, learn what works best for you. For some people, taking notes about something that the handouts address in detail is redundant; for others, the repetition is reinforcing.

- Keep the presentation itself. Many instructors give out a hard copy of any slides. If possible, get an electronic copy of the presentation as well so that you can search it for key phrases or concepts later. You can also keep an electronic copy on your laptop or PC and access it more quickly and without having to carry a load of books around. (Note that some training organizations refuse to give out electronic copies of presentations because of the ease with which they can be copied and distributed inappropriately; if an instructor does give you an electronic copy of any classroom materials, please keep it for your personal use.)

After the training session, be sure to take what you learned with you. Try to think of ways that the information will benefit you, your company, or your clients. Don't waste any opportunities that your new knowledge might create.

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