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January 12, 2010

Why would you attend a conference in 2010? (Really, why?)

Conferences are about to go the way of Stock Brokers, Travel Agents and all Bookstores. 

Many of them, not all of them, had collapsed into self perpetuating spam groups anyway. With vendors being charged exorbitant fees to speak to a group of decision makers. (Who were presumably bored to death by being fed sales pitch after sales pitch) 

I am a member of a group on LinkedIn, related to my day job, that is filled with just about every significant decision maker in the world in my industry.

And they are reachable every day, at any hour, without having to fight my way to the front of a line and risk losing my dignity in the process. (And for the most part is is cheaper than exclusive club memberships, conference admission and all of the rest)

Conferences as a B2B networking event, as far as my marketing spending goes, are dead in the water. I send people only as a reward for something they may have done well during the year.

But there are conferences that really stand out. TED is one of these, and Diggers and Dealers in kalgoorlie is another. (Hey, I find the mining industry fascinating...)

They are specifically not set up for networking. Sure there is that part of it, but they are set up fundamentally different to other conferences that I have been to.

Before anything else, both of these annual events focus on the presentation of scarce and valuable information. At TED it is the newest, craziest, wildest, and most credible people on the planet sharing their views on things from the every day to the arcane.

At Diggers and Dealers you cannot present if you are a vendor. In fact, they don't advertise and they have a waiting list for vendors who want to display stands there !!

Why? because it is only Senior VP's and above speaking there. If you invest in the mining industry then you need to hear what these people are talking about because the deals that get done there will shape the next 12 - 18 months.

This is the secret of the conference of the future. Create an event. A real event where the focus is on scarce and valuable information. Where people will get to participate in something that is beyond networking (which I can do on LinkedIn) and beyond training (which I can get anywhere).

My one and only prediction for 2010? Continued contraction and decline in revenues for the trade show industry, but more networking going on globally than ever before!!

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