During school, we focused on what was in our heads. We took exams, got grades, received diplomas and worked towards degrees.
During work, we focus on doing the job right. Our work is an open-book exam and we access lifelines from our colleagues to the Internet. Accessing our networks is encouraged and welcomed.
Success today is based on having great connections. Relationships with thought leaders and advisors. Links to relevant and contextual online content. Ties with others that have similar experiences.
Evolution Of Networks
In the past, people learned from apprentices. They studied under a master craftsman.
The printing press gave rise to instructor-centric schools. The teacher was the source of all information.
Today, we learn through networks and with others. Authority is less centralized.
Learning is best understood as an interaction among practitioners, rather than a process in which a producer provides knowledge to a consumer. ~ Etienne Wenger.
Today’s workers are a sum of their networks. They carry a dashboard on their smartphone or mobile device. The worker gives and receives, collaborates with others and problem-solves in new ways.
In networks, connections are the only thing that matters! Our workers’ social networks are critical to our organization’s success.
Six Critical Conference Connections
Conference attendees seek two things: education ad networking. Both are about connections.
Ultimately, the conference experience is about making real and meaningful connections. Here are six conference connections critical to success.
1. Connecting Participant To Participant
At its core, learning is social. Most people learn better when they are with others. Designing conference experiences so that participants converse, share and discuss specific issues leads to learning.
Since most learning is social, wouldn’t it be more effective to put [learners] in touch with others so they can learn from one another? ~ Jay Cross
2. Connecting Participants To Sponsors
Sponsors identify specific target markets that they want to connect with. Embedding sponsors into the conference experience so that participants connect and network with them is idea.
3. Connecting Participants To Exhibitors
Often people attend conferences to find trends and specific products that will help their work. Helping participants identify exhibitors that provide those services or products that meets their needs is imperative to both the participant’s and exhibitor’s success.
4. Connecting Participants To Content
Connecting participants to critical content and topics that solves their problems leads to learning. Then participants connect the content to what they already know.
5. Connecting Participants To Personal Goals
Everyone attends a conference for their own personal reasons. Helping participants identify those personal goals and interests, can help them align with a session’s learning outcomes. It also helps them focus on what they consider is important.
6. Connecting Participants To Outcomes
Learning outcomes (also called learning objectives) are the knowledge and skills participants will be able to apply after attending an education session. They are the benchmark for success or failure of education. When participants are given the opportunity to talk about the learning outcomes, it is more likely that they connect with them and align their personal goals to them.
What other conference connections are important to recognize? Which connection is most important to you and why?