Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opening Keynote and Conference Catalyst

I had the honor of kicking off the Troux Worldwide Conference last week in Austin, Texas.  It was a great event, and I applaud the team at Troux for taking a technical industry conference and transforming it into an experiential happening for everyone in attendance.

From the early planning stages they wanted to ensure the conference was not just a showcase of their company.  While highlighting their success was important, the main focus for the company was on the attendees.  They were working to create an exciting place for their industry to gather, and the information provided had to be powerful and not just about Troux.

This is where most companies fall short in the execution of their "users conference".  I spoke to a meeting planner the other day who said "Our conference is ONLY about high-level technical product information.  Nobody in our audience cares about the social aspects of a conference or any unrelated topics".  Huh?  Three days together and nobody wants anything fun, light or experiential?  That type of assumption is what kills a meeting.

Troux Technologies is one of Austin's great homegrown companies, and their 2011 "Users Conference" was their largest to date.  The event drew over 375 clients, prospects, vendors, partners, bloggers, and other VIP's in the Enterprise Architecture field.  They succeeded in making the event a "must attend", and that was evident by the Twitter and blog comments that circulated throughout their industry.

"Users conferences" have become a popular venue for my "Conference Catalyst" program.  When planning events many assume that people only come for the high-end technical information, but human beings are still social animals, no matter the reason is behind a gathering.  While the sharing of quality knowledge is important, if people do not have a legitimate "experience" they get bored very fast.  Those in attendance want to meet other people and network, but they stink at striking up meaningful conversations with strangers. Creating a fun (and not "hokey") social atmosphere can bring people together and allow them to establish long-term and mutually beneficial relationships.

The "Conference Catalyst" assists meeting planners in transforming regular business events into memorable happenings.

One attendee sent me the following email:

"I came back with 13 business cards (I met more people but not all had cards). That’s probably 11 or 12 more than I would from a typical user conference.
The difference? Your quick-hit, easy approach"

 Another added:

"Just a quick note to tell you what a pleasure it was meeting you last week. Like you I attend many conferences and I have seen many of these folks at other events. I can tell you with great certainty that there was a great deal more networking happening through the course of 2 days than I have seen before with this crowd. Several people directly said that you changed [their] behavior at the conference and that [they] never realized how much more [they] could learn by simple networking."

My favorite part of the "Conference Catalyst" is getting emails from executives like these who might have been skeptical about why networking matters... but are then thrilled by discovering the real power of business relationships.

Thanks to Troux Technologies for having me as part of the 2011 Troux Worldwide Conference.  It was great working with them, and I am impressed with all they do.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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