The Secret to Boosting Your Professional Learning Network and Why It Matters
The connections you make in your profession and the knowledge you share will journey with you throughout your entire working career. In this blog, we’ll help define PLNs and provide you with five easy ways to create meaningful connections and access real-time knowledge and resources.
What is a professional learning network (PLN)?
Your Professional Learning Network is a network of connections for mutual and continuous learning. It will be mostly made up of people and resources outside of work and will continue to grow with you over time. It is a great way to continue learning and seek others with similar interests.
1. Social Media
Think of social media as a central hub for your PLN. Social channels like Twitter and Facebook are easily accessible, cost-free and a great way to store and nurture your professional and personal contacts. You can join collaborative discussions, seek advice on new tech platforms or share resources, connect with people you met at a conference and even meet new connections from around the world – the possibilities are endless. It’s also a great way to access 24/7 support.
Pro Tip: Join and like groups on social media that pertain to your interests. If you want to learn more about digital portfolios or find out about the latest school news apps, find EdTech groups where you can discuss options and find out what has worked for other districts or school staff. Your PLN is a great way to gain unbiased opinions and real-time knowledge.
2. Member Societies
Another easy way to boost your PLN is by joining a group or society. Societies, associations, and other groups act as a resource center for like-minded individuals. As an educator, you might struggle with boosting parent engagement and it probably won’t come as a surprise that other educators run into the same problem. Societies share resources and are a reliable way to meet verified people in your field.
Pro Tip: Search for member societies by location, school type, and by occupation. The more options you give yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have to build up your PLN.
In today’s digital era, there are plenty of ways to learn more about a specific topic online. Whether it’s an online training course about an ed-tech tool you wish to learn more about, or an in-person user group run by your website providers, make sure you stay up-to-date with all the training your PLN is offering or attending.
Pro Tip: Sign up for newsletters that pertain to your field or industry! Not only will these weekly or monthly updates help you stay up-to-date on relevant happenings, but you may also find invitations for webinar signups or free courses inside. Plus, you will be sent an email rather than having to look for the information yourself. Sign up to our newsletter here.
4. Conferences & Summits
One of the most exciting ways you can boost your PLN is by attending conferences and summits. These events are an easy way to meet new people, explore new products, and learn from your industry’s best. Conferences and summits can be regional or national, so before choosing which ones to attend, we suggest aligning your goals to see which events will be most beneficial to you or your team. While most conferences require a fee to attend, you can usually find shorter, one-day workshops in the area that are free!
Pro Tip: Research the vendors and keynote speakers ahead of time so that you can come prepared with questions. Many of these people are leaders in the industry and can offer great advice.
5. eBooks & Blogs
The last way to boost your PLN may just be the easiest. If you’ve ever downloaded an eBook or read a blog (like you’re doing right now), you know that there’s a huge library of options online. All you need to do is sign up to a blogging site like WordPress and search for the topics you enjoy.
Pro Tip: Check out your favorite company’s website! Most digital providers have a blog that’s filled with hidden tips and tricks.
Whether you’re ready to start all five of these methods or you simply want to start with creating a LinkedIn profile, we suggest devoting 10 minutes a day to boosting your network! It’s an easy way to stay inspired and make lasting connections with the people who matter.