Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Planning Our KM Conference - What to Cover?

We're planning our 11th annual KM Conference for May 4-5 in Vegas this year and met as a team yesterday to discuss. Our internal KM community of practice puts on the conference - picking speakers, setting format, etc. - similar to many other organizations. We're trying something new (for us) this year that I've seen at several other much larger conferences - networking groups. We're asking attendees to answer 4-5 questions so that we can "match" them with individuals that have similar interests. We'll then send that information out so they can make meaningful connections prior to, during, and after the conference. Have others tried this? My main concern is manually matching 300-400 people's profiles. We haven't found a cheap or easy tool that makes this possible and buying Social Network Analysis tools seems a bit overboard.

I would like to see this conference be as "customized" as possible as well - we have the standard program with breaks built in, etc., but we're also trying to do "Birds of a Feather" cocktail reception and lunch breaks to allow members to find their center. What other ways have conferences allowed people to create a "Starbucks" experience where they get the base ingredient and then add/enhance as they go?

I'm saddened by the fact that I won't be in attendance this year - my first miss since 1998. Fortunately, it's for a good reason, however - my wife is due with identical twin girls on May 4! While I'm sure many of the attendees in Vegas will be getting by with as little sleep as me, I won't be doing it over beers and poker chips - instead with midnight feedings and double diaper changes! Should be a fun adventure...

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