Two hours. That’s approximately how long I had in the car on my way home to reflect on my experience at the Connect conference in Niagara Falls. Although some of my thoughts rested squarely on sessions I attended, they were clearly elsewhere, and I was wondering how many of my fellow conference attendees felt the same way on their journey home? How many of these people were realizing that it’s the relationships cultivated, and the networks established at these conferences that are the most significant drivers of change and professional growth.
On Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of chatting with Leigh Cassell at Ignite Niagara Falls, an event organized by Fair Chance Learning. Leigh echoed my thoughts, suggesting that relationships and networking opportunities are often the most important reason for conference attendance. That’s not to downplay the importance of the amazing sessions offered, I’m very excited about sharing my learnings regarding 3D printing and the Micro:bit, but we cannot underestimate what’s happening outside of these sessions. It’s about the people, not filling our heads with massive amounts of knowledge.
If we go to conferences with the intention of cultivating relationships and establishing networks, we leave with a vastly more powerful experience, one that will not be replaced by product iterations, or being impacted by a change in pedagogy. The most valuable takeaway may not be the ideas, but the relationships with the people who are the incubators of these ideas.