Association Love Connection
I just got back from giving a couple of breakout sessions at Connect Marketplace in Grapevine, TX. It was great fun and some really interesting things happened. Rob Lowe managed to offend an entire group of people, Shaq had the longest acronym I've ever seen (C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N.), the power went off, and a former President of the United States talked about painting for 15 minutes...and that was all just from the mainstage.
The biggest takeaway for me, however, came from getting to sit in on the planner-supplier reverse trade show meetings. It was, as everyone points out, like speed dating. Aside from what this says about the transactional nature of romance in our modern society, I was struck by how few suppliers seemed to take heed of the lessons one can learn from the speed dating world.
Each supplier came with a pitch. As soon as they sat down, they launched into the pitch. And they were GOOD. Professional, slickly produced, well-rehearsed. But when you're planning a meeting four or five or six years from now, your thinking about a long term relationship. The slick pitch might work well for the meeting planning equivalent of a one-night stand (whatever that is), but if I'm going to have to work with you for the better part of a decade, you better do something to get to know me more than just make small-talk.
In fact, I overheard one meeting planner talking to another, and she said "If I'm getting the same pitch as everyone else, just email it to me."
Taking time to get to know your potential partner and being truly interested in what they do is like, speed dating 101, I would imagine. It seems the reverse trade show could learn a lesson or two.