Events and meetings, your time has come. We live in an age where connection is the name of the game and that's what YOU are all about.
Now I know that things are moving fast these days and we are all very busy, but have you stopped to ponder the tenor of the times we live in and how it relates to event professionals?
Marketing has had a make-over. No longer is it about repetition, name recognition and loud, widely spread broadcasting. The focus is clearly on building one on one relationships. And meetings and events facilitate this.
Technology designed specifically for networking seems to be developing the fastest: mobile phone applications, online community platforms, games and gamified activities all have a myriad of uses designed to connect us to each other.
Not surprisingly, savvy meeting and event organizers have been quick to adopt and even help develop these new technologies. Hybrid and virtual meetings are even allowing attendees who can't attend the face to face event to network in spite of the fact. Check out the latest "next best thing to being there," an iPad on a robotic stick!
But technology hasn't been the only place where our new emphasis on networking can be seen. The format of traditional meetings and events is beginning to be transformed to include a greater emphasis on informational networking, a la peer to peer conferences.
Meetings and events have always been about connecting the dots. Conferences are where many professionals further their education. But in this age of dot-connection-on-steroids, everyone is benefiting from conferences such as TED that are posted online.
As noted above, it's not only that technology facilitates these new connections, the difference in the way we now get our information is causing us to explore meeting formats that are less hierarchical. Peer-to-peer conferences tap the collective wisdom of attendees and help less self-promotional types to shine.
And, in general, audience participation is now the name of the game during presentations, allowing attendees to connect with the content while they are at the conference rather than acting as passive receivers of information.
The ease of exposure to many different types of information has sparked ideas and advancements across what were often very insulated disciplines. For instance you might not think ants have anything to do with computers. But like the two Stanford professors who found out that computers and ants share the same communication protocols, meeting professionals are beginning to look outside their industry for support and creative input and more organizations are choosing to benefit from collocating conferences.
For more on the benefits and drawbacks of co-location for events check out Dede Mulligan's article here on Cvent.
Idealists might say that the trend toward connection and collaboration as opposed to isolation and competition heralds a new step in human evolution. As one of those idealists, I am proud and happy to be working in the events industry during this time. I hope you are too.
(Photo by aroid)