Having said that, I must admit I was intrigued by the concept of the new conference “Connect in 3D” being sponsored by Yole Developpement this coming fall ( Oct 31st / Nov 1st). For those of you who haven’t seen the advertising blurb try this link [link]The concept originated with Brian Perkins of Highliner Events (yes that would be Jeff Perkins brother – isn’t nepotism great). While many conferences try to set up their schedule so that the attendees can have “quality networking time” Brian’s concept is to have a conference that is basically all networking complete with terms like “speed dating”. Will it work for a technical area like ours ?
IFTLE decided to throw some questions Brian and Jeff’s way so we can all get a better understanding about how this works.IFTLE: Brian How did this “connect” program come about ? Has it been used in other technical venues and if so how has it worked.
BP: The real value of a conference is no longer the presentations, keynote addresses, or even white-papers. It is the decision-makers and influencers who attend—and the networking and collaboration that occurs between them at the event—that are truly high-value. Networking is the Holy Grail of event value, and our Collaboration SummitsSM are designed to deliver the maximum networking opportunities in a variety of pre-scheduled, formal and informal formats with a minimum of ‘pre-packaged’ content. Yole has used the technique for a MEMS event, I’ll let Jeff address how he felt that went.
JP: We launched our first event with Highliner last year targeting the MEMS inertial sensor space. Attendees at the inaugural “MEMS in Motion” event really embraced the format. As a technical crowd, they “got it” very quickly, everyone used the software tools to the max and respected every meeting time limit – making the absolute most of their time. Attendees gave us a 100% satisfaction rating. This event design is an iterative and evolving process. These second edition Collaboration Summits have been revised based on feedback and observations made during the first event. We will continue to respond to the market as it dictates.
IFTLE: Will attendance be capped by total or by company ?
JP: We would like to see no more than 200 participants. At sometime we might also consider capping the number of participants from a single company. The value proposition being more companies participating is better.
IFTLE: If I have read the material correctly it looks like two types of meeting are set up. Some by the attendee and some by a computer which matches up attendees randomly. Is that correct? How does this work?
BP: The bulk of the meetings are scheduled by the attendees themselves. Attendees request, accept and or decline meetings with other attendees. These will be 20-minute meetings with delegates of their choice, scheduled through the DealCenter online platform or at kiosks during the event. Private tables are setup for conference attendees to meet with the person(s) they made appointments with through the DealCenter. Confirmed meetings will be assigned a table number in the Connect in 3D meeting area. In addition, there is a session where there is “speed dating” pre-arranged meetings which we will talk about in a few minutes….
JP: The DealCenter will open in September. Registered attendees will receive instructions in September via email when the DealCenter opens. All meeting planning is done through the DealCenter platform and every registered attendee will be able to see and request meetings with all other registered attendees. To be clear though - no contact information outside of the DealCenter contact point is ever made available unless users voluntarily provide it through their own meeting invitations or sent messages. So DealCenter is a temporary networking tool, setup for each event, allowing initial contact to be made, but any expansion of that contact is entirely up to you.
IFTLE: So all the attendees will be listed and I can privately sign up for 1 on 1 meeting with any of them before I get to the meeting. Those meetings are locked in – correct ?
BP: Remember the whole concept is about choice, so when I request a meeting with you, you have three options, you can accept the meeting, you can accept the meeting but suggest a different time, or you can decline the meeting. If you accept the meeting that is locked into our respective schedules.
IFTLE: What are the chances that the person I really want to meet will get booked up and I wont get to talk to him/her ?
JP: It is entirely possible that the person you want to meet will be booked up for the 20-minute meetings, particularly if you wait until the last minute to register for the conference early bird registration really means something in this style event! However, all is not lost if they are booked - there is the possibility you will end up with a 10-minute speed dating meeting on the first day. Also there are all of the classic informal opportunities to meet: at the meals, we have extended coffee breaks and receptions. We actually enhance the ability to meet people by starting out the meeting with personal introductions. One of the key components to these events is the opening session introductions: so right after breakfast on the first day all of the participants gather in the plenary session room. We give a brief description of how the day will run, and then we begin the individual introductions. It allows everyone to put a face with a name. If there is someone you really want to meet, you will know who they are and what they look like in the first 2 hours. You don’t have to wander around all day trying to read name badges.
IFTLE: So how does the speed dating part work ?
BP: One of the important parts of any gathering of business professionals is the random connections that occur by serendipity. Our Meet the Market ( speed dating) meetings are designed to enhance that serendipity. These meetings will be set by the DealCenter program software a few days before the event. We want to be sure we have the maximum number of participants available to insure we capture everyone. The system will randomly pair attendees with other attendees screening for one meeting per individual from a given company and screening out anyone with whom you have already scheduled a 20-minute meeting.
IFTLE: What if speed dating assigns me to meet with a competitor, do I have to have those meetings ?
JP: The speed dating session is really about going with the flow. We issue individual “date cards” minutes before the Meet the Market session starts and you go to each and every meeting, regardless of any sentiments you may have. These meetings are 10 minutes – long enough to know if there is need to meet again, but not so long to make you uncomfortable. At MEMS in Motion, even competitors that got paired up commented that they actually made a useful connection - serendipity indeed.
IFTLE: So what is the proportion of prepared materials (plenary presentations by experts / panel discussions) vs scheduled 20 min meetings vs speed dating over the two days ?
BP : It breaks out to be just about 1/3 each plus all the informal networking time at meals, breaks and receptions. If you add in this informal time the breakdown is about 25% each
IFTLE : So to sum up, this is a conference which focuses on relationship building through 2 days of networking in Palm Springs where you can get to have direct 1:1 meetings with people you have been wanting to meet ?
JP: In today’s world we are all too busy, the real point here is to make enough of a connection so that folks will pick up the phone when you call or open and reply to an email you send.
Update on the Girls
On the way to the IMAPS Device Pkging Conf. stopped off in TX for the weekend to see how Hannah and Maddie were doing. Ends up it was Rodeo weekend in Houston. Trust me you have never been to a rodeo till you’ve attended one in TX. For those of you who do not understand why the Texas football team are known as the “longhorns” ... Now you do !
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