Benefits of PLN, Community and Professional Organizations

Today’s post comes to us from #chat2lrn crew member, Meg Bertapelle. Meg is a Senior Instructional Designer of Clinical and Product Education at Intuitive Surgical, a medical device company which makes the da Vinci Surgical System. You can find her on twitter at @megbertapelle


I just got back from attending the DevLearn conference and I’ve been struggling to pull together my “take-aways” for the last week (while also trying to catch up at work after being gone for a week). My gut was telling me that the best part was the people – but is that really OK? I mean, my company paid a lot of money to send me to this conference, and the best part was the people?

#chat2lrn pre-chat LIVE at #DevLearn 14

#chat2lrn pre-chat LIVE at #DevLearn 14
Thanks to @tomspiglanin for the picture via Twitter 🙂

 For me, it really is true. The sessions might have been the spark, but the conversations and connections with all of these great smart people really were the best part. I was able to connect with people in person that I normally only communicate with over the internet. While we have become great friends and I respected and trusted them all before I met them in person, the connection was much stronger, and our communication was more efficient, in person. We’ll leave THAT distinction for another chat (maybe talk to Helen Blunden), but my point is that meeting people in person (or seeing them again in person) this time has really brought home to me that I would not be anywhere NEAR as good an instructional designer, employee, problem solver – and even thinker – without my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Whoever first said “we are smarter than me” is SO right. (btw, apparently there’s a book – I haven’t read it, but I should put it on my list!)

 I have always captured some great information and ideas from attending a conference. In fact the first conference I went to was DevLearn in 2010. The sessions I went to and people I met (can’t possibly name them all) are the whole reason I am here today, part of the #chat2lrn crew, writing a blog for a Twitter chat where we can discuss and debate really interesting things with really smart people. The great ideas don’t wait for a conference though – people in the L+D community, in my PLN, come up with ideas, share interesting stuff and have wonderful debates and discussions on Twitter, or Skype, or LinkedIn, or Google+, and it’s happening ALL THE TIME. Without this community (that’s you!), I might still be creating really horrible training materials and calling them good! LOL

So thank you, all of you, for being the greatest benefit of all in my career. Thank you for allowing me to tag along – and possibly contribute in some small way – with your PLN. 

What about you? What have you found to be the benefits of having a PLN, or participating in a community or professional organization?

Let’s discuss during #chat2lrn on Nov. 13th, 8:00 PST/11:00 EST/16:00 GMT. Hope to see you there!


3 thoughts on “Benefits of PLN, Community and Professional Organizations

  1. So do we go to conferences for the speakers on the brochure or to see/meet our PLN and maybe even expand our PLN? Interesting point you raise. I know that I look at a brochure to see who is speaking and then determine if it is going to be worth attending.

    So do we care if our PLN member(s) are going – probably not. But when we get there and attend the conference, the speakers sessions just drift into the abyss and all we remember or recall is meeting so and so and having dinner with such and such and sharing a sandwich with him and her.

    It would be a great social experiment to undertake pre and post conference attendance with a group next time. I hazard to guess that most respondents will remember more clearly and vividly who they met and had a wine with more than the speaker they listened to and the details of their content.

    I know I have transgressed away from your questions, but for me this post says more about how we behave before, during and after a conference.

    P.S. Loved the last #Chat2lrn chat even though it was 2:00 a.m. (couldn’t sleep), but I don’t think I will be doing that again 😉

  2. Interesting thoughts Con and I will also digress from the questions and focus more on the event itself. When I go to conferences, I too look at the programme, but I also find out who, from my #PLN, are also going to be there. In terms of my takeaways, I think it very much depends on the sessions I have chosen to attend. Before I go to an event, I do quite a bit of research on the speakers to work out which sessions will be of benefit to me – in other words I look for the WIIFIM (what’s in it for me). There are sessions, that as you say, ‘drift into the abyss’, but I can still recall sessions I attended years ago, where there was either a ‘light bulb’ moment or the speaker was particularly engaging. In these instances, rather than go through what we all know as the Ebbinghaus curve, I spend time after the conference finding out more about the topic that captured my interest. All too often, I think many people see a conference as a ‘one off’ event and don’t invest time both before and afterwards. To me, its the follow through that’s important and this applies to the speaker sessions and to making sure that we continue to connect with the people we meet.

  3. It’s often the bits in between the conference – the PLN you catch up with, the new people and conversations you have – that have the biggest emotional impact, isn’t it? I’ve heard that said before (and remember reading another blog post about it a while back), and experienced it too.
    Maybe it’s because it’s this that provides the personal, emotional connection – and it’s this that we remember, and that helps build stronger relationships with our PLN, more than the ‘formal’ bits of the conference, which mainly feed our intellect.
    Good point too Lesley about the follow through, which is important to add value both from the formal parts of the conference, and the bits in between.
    I enjoyed this post, sorry to have missed the chat! (But as Con says, it’s not on at a great time for us in Oz…)

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