It is hard to discern the value of all the innovation conferences, start-up beers, accelerate connects and investment forums. But, there are times when it clicks and you realize that sometimes the energy really flows and the event creates something of lasting value. The workshop content clicks, the audience engages and more importantly, people talk. And with that I mean: take time to really engage in a deeper conversation, to probe, to listen, to challenge. For all the hype around ‘networking’ I noticed a few weeks ago how you can get people to really do that, to have meaningful engagement between total strangers, one that has a life beyond the event. It is not easy, I think the large events with thousands attending are nice but have limited impact, but smaller events like the one we hosted in Kelowna a few weeks ago can bring it out. Confine the speakers and attendees together for long enough in an informal setting, facilitate the intros (a good organizer will know who needs to talk to who) and then let it go and let people do their thing. Investors are willing to share, entrepreneurs are keen to open up and highlight their doubts, their struggles. Sure, some alcohol and good food helps, but the essence is the willingness to share and to give people the right space to do that. It was nice for once to not have to be the one to do all this work of talking and engaging (although I ended up doing lots of that), but to set the stage and let others reap the benefits of it all.
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