In 2011, I attended my first set of events which were organised through social media. It was an absolute watershed moment in my professional development. Through mostly Twitter, and at the time the #connectinghr hashtag, I connected with some really good people all interested in the broad HR profession – L&D, HR itself and recruitment in the main with professionals from OD and coaching practices too. It was a bold time to be part of the social media mix. Not many were doing it. Those who were, chose to get right involved.
Later that year I attended my first unconference. It was such an eye-opening experience. Being invited to take part through facilitation techniques like Open Space and World Cafe, seeing graphic facilitators in action, having a collective lunch, and being involved in some really in depth conversations. All such a departure from everything I had ever experienced in terms of an event.
After that, I got to chatting with several others in the L&D space and raised the possibility of holding an event for L&D practitioners ourselves. There was agreement, and in April 2012, L&D Connect held the first L&D unconference. I think there were about 25 of us. It was an afternoon, and it was a new experience for nearly everyone. We didn’t know then, that it would continue. Over the next couple of years, we held more unconferences. They continued to be of value and people really appreciated attending them.
I think in 2015, three of us came together and decided we’d like to try and hold a Twitter chat. We’d seen these happen in various forms before. A set time on a set day with a hashtag and you kind of see how it goes. The first was an interesting experiment. We decided to repeat. And keep repeating. And #ldinsight then became quite the permanent fixture.
Things kept developing. More people wanted to volunteer and be involved in both the chats as well as the unconference organising. This year, we went international with it and held our first L&D Connect unconference in Rotterdam!
And I look back on the last 5 years the community has been running, and I think – well that’s how you develop a community of practice right there.