Creating Serendipity At A Virtual Conference. Possible? We Think So.
If you haven’t heard of Dreamforce, it’s Salesforce’s annual customer and partner event. Last year it had over 171,000 registered attendees with over 2700 sessions. It’s quite the event. It is also where I first discovered that serendipity is one of the biggest reasons to attend. It is, I think, the #1 reason to attend any conference. I learned that lesson early in my career. My first Dreamforce was in 2003, Salesforce’s first Dreamforce, funnily enough. They had a little over 1000 registered attendees, so maybe not the 171K of 2019, but it was still quite the event. Lunch was a sit-down affair, and I connected with a woman who I’ve been friends – both personally and professionally – with since. Like you, I could probably tell 1000 more stories of conversations I’ve had in-line, over lunch, or even once on an alligator swamp-boat tour. Yes, this was a work-related trip, really.
I shared about missing serendipity manifested through experiences with other people on LinkedIn last week. Clearly, I’m not the only person who feels this way.
So if we no longer have lunches or swamp boats, how can we manifest this same surprising connection in this virtual world? Here are two ways that intrigue me.
Amber Allen and the team at Double A Labs blow my mind when it comes to creating phygital (physical + digital) worlds. It’s hard to describe but imagine avatars + virtual space + interaction all through your computer. They’ve recently created virtual interactive spaces for Alienware Outpost and many others. Let me just say, it was like a theme park and a conference had a baby. Their entire strategy was way more than matching attendees in a forced virtual breakout room.
I’m also experimenting in this arena in a much more personal way. As a returning speaker to the WCCF Conference, we had a long conversation about the importance of serendipity. I’m personally a superfan of Amy Perkins, the conference chair. When I arrived at the 2018 conference, I walked into a hotel lobby with people leap-frogging each other. People, I later learned, who hadn’t known each other less than 24 hours prior. Why? Serendipity, of course. This year leap-frogging virtually will be a tad challenging, so we’re partnering together to create a pre-conference experience that combines our combined goal of connecting attendees. It is infinitely easier to manifest serendipity when you arrive prepared with a compelling and unique way of introducing yourself. Better yet, you come armed with unique and exciting insights about the other attendees. Every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room you’re not in. Yes, you’ve heard me say this before. The “room” in question doesn’t have to be physical. It could be a phygital. Thanks, Amber for the word to add to my dictionary.
Want to join us? You can learn about our conference serendipity maker event here.
These are a couple of brilliant ideas I’ve seen over the last couple of months. My guess is you’ve seen some too. What are they? We’d love to share them with more people. We’re all going to be working in a phygital world for a while, maybe even forever. Let’s share how to make some of the magic of in-person work here too.