And I always think to myself, really?
At the bottom of my question is some skepticism about (a) how good the average person really is at networking for learning in a live conference environment, and (b) whether the quality of that networking is really better than the (often unconscious) networking that most people – at least among the sorts that are likely to attend conferences – already do online.
Here are some of my theories:
Now, none of this is to say that there is not value in face-to-face events and the networking that comes with them. Some people view them as essential for removing distractions and focusing, for example. I agree with that, up to a point, but certainly conference fees and travel costs can be a high price to pay for artificially imposed self-discipline.
Additionally, connecting with friends, colleagues, and the occasional new acquaintance helps to form and cement emotional bonds that are vital to a productive, happy professional and personal life. Admittedly, these bonds are sometimes (though certainly not always) the foundation for effective networking online. But I suspect they are just that in many cases – a foundation – and that increasingly a lot of the actual networking and value generation, from a learning standpoint, is happening online.
“Can’t beat the networking you get face-to-face” – at least to the extent that the objective of the networking is developing new knowledge – is overrated.
Well, that’s my perspective at least. What’s your?
I am an avid lifelong learner who writes and speaks frequently on the critical role of learning in our fast-changing world.