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Hate Conferences? How about an Anti-Conference?

June 9th, 2011 · No Comments · Ideas

Big Ideas:

  • Social media connections are weak; real world meet ups are still essential.
  • Smaller conferences focused around an activity build stronger connections.

The Rise of Anti-Conferences

It is more important than ever to make real world connections than ever, but conferences? Spending a few days with thousands of people frantically handing out business cards is a difficult way to establish meaningful connections.

TheNextWeb reported on the rising trend of anti-conferences:

I can go and swap my business card with 500 people at a conference, but at a smaller event I can make 100 solid relationships with people that last a lifetime.

Unconferences have been around for a while providing an unconventional and creative setting for people to meet and network, but I’m witnessing a trend for the conference aspect of an event, (thousands of participants watching a speaker, bad coffee, organized networking) being thrown out of the window and more activity conscious events being organized. Friends who went on Summit Series, an event for entrepreneurs on a charted cruise ship that sailed round the Bahamas, were raving about their yoga/music and shark tagging expeditions as well as the relationships they made onboard.

Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with thousands of people around the world, but most of those connections are tenuous at best. Real and lasting relationships come from  intimate real world gatherings where the focus is on something other than generating immediate leads.

Having attendees participate in activities like rock climbing, hiking, yoga, wine-tasting or cooking classes is a great ice breaker that immediately creates shared experiences.

Action Items:

  • Organize a sporting or cultural activity for clients, suppliers and/or acquaintances that focus on people, not business.
  • Make a consistent effort to meet other professionals without a hard sell. Focus on them, not you.
  • Set aside 30 minutes a day to support and connect others online. Again, NO sales pitches.

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