What is the Ideal Timing for Pre-Event Matchmaking? Tips from Linda Hull, Silicon Valley Telecom Council
Timing is crucial for matchmaking at a B2B event. Says Linda Hull, in charge of the annual T3C summit in Mountain View, California. Which steps should an event manager take to facilitate effective networking? Linda shares her experience!
The telecom industry in Silicon Valley includes over 500 telecom companies, employs over 100,000 people, and has attracted more than twice the investment dollars than any other region in the US in 2011. We are talking about a pretty substantial business in that innovative region!
Linda Hull serves as Director of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley – Telecom & Wireless Association. In that capacity, she oversees the annual TC3 Summit in Mountain View, CA (USA) – which makes her an authority on matchmaking at B2B events!
Just after this year’s show which took place 28-29 September, we had the chance to speak with Linda about the role of matchmaking at events and what tips she can give event planners who want to professionalize their networking and matchmaking offers.
What is the concept of your event? Who are you reaching out to primarily?
Linda Hull: “TC3 is focused on bringing innovators and those seeking innovation together. Telecom Council meetings throughout the year present startups to innovation scouts (mostly from US, Asian and European telcos) but at TC3 we go beyond our normal boundaries, with telco representatives from around the globe and more emphasis on the telcos presenting their priorities for the coming year to the startup community.”
How important is efficient matchmaking for the success of your event?
Linda Hull: “The matchmaking element of TC3 is what sets us apart from many other conferences in this ecosystem. Because we attract so many influencers from the telcos, having facilitated meetings for our delegates adds huge value to our event. It allows us to go beyond serendipity and ensures that the conversations that take place between innovator and telco are focused and relevant.”
Which role does the Converve platform play in this respect?
Linda Hull: “Converve is our platform of choice for facilitated networking!”
What are the tips you have for planners seeking to professionalize networking at their events? Which pitfalls should a planner avoid?
Linda Hull: “Messaging is key! Positioning Converve as a value add to the event and getting the delegates to buy in to the matchmaking process is essential. Make sure each delegate registers themselves and understands the importance of regularly accepting/declining meetings.
Don’t start the matchmaking process too early. We condense the process into just 3 weeks. Three weeks out is a set up week (delegates create their profiles, block out times on their schedule, with no access to scheduling), 2 weeks out is a VIP week where we designate host companies and attendee companies to facilitate the most meaningful matches, 1 week out is “open season” where all delegates can schedule meetings with each other. We found starting the matchmaking earlier than this led to frustrations as registration peaks at the 3 week point and most of our innovation scouts would leave it until one or two weeks out to work on their meeting scheduling.”
What do participants love the most about your events?
Linda Hull: “At TC3 we give our attendees a little bit of everything. Two stages of content, a demo pavilion and matchmaking! To quote an exhibitor from our most recent event “I was able to get more out of 1.5 days at TC3 than from a week of exhibiting at CES”.”