Why I’m going to Connect 2023

This image shows a crowd of people chatting to each other during a break in a conference session. It's a big, bright room. The crowd is a diverse mix of ages, genders and ethnicities.

By Erin Donovan, Director of The Learning Network

Let’s start with a level set. I am a founder of a very small company trying to make a bit of noise in a very loud world. I am also a writer, learner, thinker who is trying to make sense of how quickly things are changing in our world of learning. So often I am overwhelmed with the all the likes, comments, blogs, posts, podcasts and messages; treading water to stay current while trying to budget something to make my mark. And, of course, there are the ads, the double speak, the poorly-written books, and the politics that constantly get in the way of making what I do matter.

When I think about marketing, attending and presenting at conferences is integral to building business, my network and learning what’s new. But often, the cost and time are prohibitive. Leaving the office for three days to attend sessions that have little to do with me, for a cost that makes me a little shaky, as I try to justify the return on investment, isn’t realistic. However, we have to get back together. People are craving connections that aren’t framed through a Zoom lens. We need time to speak to our peers and learn from conversations that aren’t marked by a set agenda.

This is why I am choosing to go to Connect 2023 as an attendee and a sponsor.

My attendee “why”

The Learning Network is disruptive. Its value stems from the fact that it is not a space for sale. Think back to your latest conference experience. How many sessions have you slunk out of because once again, you are subjected to a sales pitch? How many times have you rolled your eyes because the session isn’t for you, it’s for the decision maker who holds the purse strings?  On the other hand, how many times have you connected with the speaker after the session? How many times have you found a mentor or an ally in a session? How many times have you excitedly taken notes about the possibility of what is next?

That is what Connect provides.  Connect offers real conversations, debates and sessions geared toward the designer rather than the corporate spender. During drinks, you get to spend time with leaders, doers and thinkers. Connect offers time to reflect, listen to debates as well as question and learn. As an attendee, you walk away with tools, ideas and growth opportunities that build you and your company. 

My sponsorship “why”

When I look at the “Big Ten” (as we say in American football) learning conferences, I see a closed door. As a small company ,not only could I not afford sponsorship, but my message would be lost. Connect is different.

As a major sponsor I have the unique opportunity to exhibit, present and debate. This provides unprecedented access to not only share my message but also hear back from the community. I can spend time meeting and listening and growing my network organically. I know the audience is focused because we have one day together and we are set to maximize our time. Rather than spending my money on yet another plastic pen or a branded bag that rarely leads to signed contracts, I can spend time talking and sharing my story in a way that is significant.

My advice to you

The conference season is upon us. As you look at your resources, think about value. As a member or Industry Partner, you have chosen Learning Network because it aligns with who you are and the value you hope to provide to the learning community. Take the next step and… Connect!

See you in November.