September 2018 ABPCO 5 Optimum platform for learning Jo Powel, joint chair of ABPCO, reflects on the second of ABPCO’s values. Learning (noun): the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being In an ideal world we should all be learning each and every day. We should be able to go to bed at night and reflect on the fact we have somehow grown as a person due to one identifiable nugget of information that has enriched us and grown our understanding of ourselves, the world around us, our friends and family, our work or just something trivial that might one day be useful. There are many reasons for associations to exist – from collaboration and lobbying through to networking, growth and sales. However, for most, whether it is the reason they first started or the reason they continue to succeed – knowledge and learning sit at the heart of an association’s success. By their very nature associations are a loose group of diverse companies and individuals with some common focus, goals, experience or knowledge. And it is this very commonality that provides the basis and potential for so many learning opportunities. At the very simplest level there is peer- to-peer knowledge sharing and exchange. Whether the association has 10 or 10,000 members they will each have a different perspective on the world, a different background and a different set of experiences that others can learn from. Through round tables, panel discussions, forums and simply networking - an association provides a platform for such opportunities. On the flip side, associations offer a way to gather an audience in front of a knowledge leader and expert who wouldn’t necessarily be available (or even known) to individuals or single organisations. Through intelligent, focused sessions, led by subject matter experts, members can learn from the best and expand their knowledge for the benefit of themselves and those around them. As an association focused on the world of meetings and events ABPCO is no different and like so many other associations we offer a home for members to share best practice and learn from industry leaders. But, for us, there is a twist in the story – our face-to-face learning opportunities are not just an opportunity to increase knowledge, they are a demonstration of best practice in its own right. They offer a chance for our members to see what does and doesn’t work before taking it back to their clients (internal or external) and seeing what can work for them. Like the often talked about shark that cannot stop moving for fear it will die, we all need to keep learning if we are going to progress in our personal and professional lives. Associations are no different – if we are to continue to attract the best and brightest members we need to offer a point of difference and something of true value to our members. It is, therefore, vital that not just the members but also an association’s board and executive continue to learn and develop. For ABPCO in the months ahead this means we have developed a plan based on listening to our members through our annual engagement survey. We are developing new ways of communication with our members, new ways to bring them together collaboratively and new ways for everyone to learn.