Closing Personal Introspective and Group Spective

At the closing session of EventCamp™ East Coast, participants first went through an exercise to help them explore changes they might make in their life once the conference was over. They then shared their personal thoughts on what they’d gained onsite, what they hoped to do with that knowledge when they got home, and how they would know when they had succeeded.

Many of the personal takeaways focused on the relationships people had built or solidified onsite and the sense of urgency they felt to keep in touch—via Twitter and email, and onsite at the national EventCamp meeting coming up in Chicago in February. Some participants said they intended to broaden their use of social media, some of them by becoming serious Twitter users for the first time.

A number of participants pointed to specific ideas they would be bringing back to build better attendee engagement at their own events. “They don’t do it now,” one participant said of her own organization. “I’d like them to.”

Others said they would leave the conference with a better idea of how to define and market their own products and services. “My focus needs more focus,” one group member said. “I’ll know it’s happened when clients don’t look confused or hesitant when I explain my product.”

Participants discussed a number of different action items flowing from the discussion onsite, including:
•    Applying the Conferences That Work model at their own upcoming meetings
•    Building new working partnerships with other participants
•    Decisions to speak or train more widely in areas where their expertise has not been fully recognized to date
•    Making better use of social media to build onsite attendance and member engagement
•    Ongoing efforts to help clients crowd-source their content
•    Reformatting a website to lend itself more readily to content creation
•    Incorporating meetings technology and current thinking on brain development in a series of upcoming meetings
•    A workshop for procurement departments—not as a sales seminar, but to help them understand the complexities of contracting for meeting services
•    Working with clients and suppliers to ensure that they produce their deliverables on time
•    Shifting to a more strategic view of clients’ business needs
•    Participating more actively in #eventprofs and attending the national EventCamp in Chicago.

A couple of participants noted that the networking among the 40 participants at ECEC has been far better and more intense than it would usually have been at a far larger gathering. “We’re all walking away with two or three times the quality and number of relationships and connections made than I would coming out of a conference of 2,000 people,” a participant said. “I’m not sure where I’m going to go with that, but it’s very interesting.”

A participant said others in the group could expect to hear from her as she developed an action plan to follow up on what she’d learned onsite, “not only for my benefit, but to ask you where I can go ahead and help you. Those relationships are going to happen. Connections are really going to be made.”

“My mind is spinning with all the things I’ve taken in here, the people I’ve met, the knowledge I’ve been exposed to,” a participant said. “One of my goals is to do much more connecting and reaching out to people here, to work with you and to learn and share and partner.”

A participant said he was “just wowed by how the agenda came together. I was happy and sad at the same time: happy to look at all these great ideas, but sad because I wanted to go to all of these sessions.” He said he looked forward to keeping in touch with the rest of the group online because, “in my world, we’re all in the same family now.”

Segar agreed that the conference could easily have run a day longer.

The session concluded with group discussion of the strengths and lessons learned from the conference and a review of an emerging issue within the #eventprofs community. Segar used the plus/delta technique.

ECEC co-organizer Lindsey Rosenthal said the Philadelphia team had spent hours discussing the pros and cons of live-streaming the conference, determining in the end that the design should be consistent with the Conferences That Work model. “Not everyone needs to implement it the same way, but Adrian does,” she said. “Part of the issue is that different people feel different ways, and we wanted to accommodate both sides of the issue.”

Several participants joined a fishbowl discussion about the future of the #eventprofs community, triggered by a recent open letter that suggested the need to appoint a community manager for the group, possibly as a rotating duty. A participant explained that the frequency of moderated chats on #eventprofs has fallen off lately, mainly because moderators have been unavailable during a busy time for the industry. A couple of group members said it might be time for another teleconference of interested community members to decide how to proceed over the next several months.

A participant suggested focusing on what success looks like, based on such factors as the number of people involved with #eventprofs, the depth of discussion, and the variety of discussions, before deciding how to achieve a particular frequency of moderated chats. Another participant said a manager can also play an important role in perpetuating the online community itself.

The group discussed whether online chats are even needed at this point. One participant described the sessions as a high-energy opportunity to get to know everyone else in the community, adding that topics from ECEC would be enough to build a chat schedule for the next six months. She disagreed with any sense that interest in #eventprofs is diminishing, noting that “this conference is happening because of the community.” Others agreed that the right topic will draw community members out to a chat, and Segar assured participants that all the session topics from the original agenda brainstorm would be available to the community for future use.

Some group members said a weekly chat series might be more realistic than twice-weekly. One participant said it would be helpful if someone volunteered to act as moderator, at least over an agreed transition period. A participant offered to moderate for the next month “and make sure that I don’t stop until I have someone who’s willing to replace me.”

A group member recommended that #eventprofs streamline the way it archives its chats, possibly by tweeting it to the hashtag page. Another participant said he had found it useful to recap the concepts, ideas, and references from tweet chats on his own blog. “There’s so much information in such a short period of time.”

A participant asked whether the group had considered an ROI model for the considerable effort that goes into #eventprofs. “If this is a new way to do business, we need to cultivate the example of how it turns into some kind of revenue piece,” she said. “Ostensibly, we’re not all doing it [solely] for the greater good of humanity.” Segar said any model should factor in the business opportunities that #eventprofs participants have been able to share over the last year. “Those kinds of stories are very powerful.” A participant suggested local meet-ups as another way to build the community and agreed on the essential role of the community manager.

Session summaries produced by The Conference Publishers, the world’s leading specialists in capturing and repackaging conference content.

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