Conference Networking for Introverts
Colleen Burns 120000C4RP firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  social_networking livestream iod martin_keen
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Any seasoned attendee will tell you the real value of conferences is not so much the technical information you learn, but the connections you make with people. That's certainly the case this week at Information On Demand, IBM's biggest software conference of the year with over 11,000 attendees. But frankly, meeting so many new people can be a little intimidating, at least until your second glass of wine at the evening reception. Fortunately, thanks to social business, even the most introverted person can meet and exchange information with hundreds of people without ever leaving their comfort zone.
Watching without a crowd
IOD, like many conferences, is not short of keynote sessions: Information Management keynote, Enterprise Content Management keynote, Business Analytics keynote. If the thought of sitting with thousands of other people for an hour or more isn't too appealing, then you need Livestream. All the keynotes and major sessions are streamed here, for IOD and many other IBM conferences besides.
Asking questions in sessions
You're sitting in an interesting breakout session. It’s coming to an end and the speaker asks “does anyone have any questions?” Silence. Do you really want to be the one to ask a silly question in front of everyone and reveal your ignorance? Of course not! Not when you can ask it privately using IBM SmartSite. This social business tool is available as a mobile phone app and web site, and among its many attributes, it lets you connect with the speakers of each session. You can send them a Tweet, read their blogs, and even send them a private message - all without ever raising your hand and having a room full of strangers judging you.
Chat with colleagues and contacts
You need to talk with a contact you've been exchanging calls with, but have never met. How do you pick them out of a crowd? Again using IBM SmartSite you can search by name on any attendee at the conference, and send them a private message. You can also set up a meeting with them that will appear on their SmartSite calendar. Pick somewhere specific and quiet to avoid those awkward “I'll be the man standing in the lobby wearing a blue shirt with a red carnation” conversations.
Follow the gossip
What did you think of that last speaker? Is this new product any good? Which vendors are giving away the best free stuff at the expo? Join the conversation without ever opening your mouth. Just follow the always lively and prolific conference Twitter hashtag - #ibmiod.
(And be sure to follow #IBMConnect to learn more about IBM Connect 2013)
What are your tips for networking at conferences, using technology as a helper?
Martin Keen is an IBM Redbooks Project Leader. He leads publications on many areas of IBM software, including WebSphere, Messaging, and Business Process Management. Follow Martin on Twitter at @MartinRTP.