You’re at a conference.
You want to network. Well, you know you should be networking.
But you’re alone in a sea of people. This is overwhelming. You lookout and everyone is talking to each other; it seems you’re the only person without a coworker, old client or agency friend to chat with.
Or at least that’s what you tell yourself as you pull out your phone hoping to find a new unread email.
What if you knew people there, though, but didn’t realize it. Or had a friend of a friend sitting right next to you and of course had no idea. In a conference of hundreds, perhaps thousands of like-minded people in your own industry, would it be all that surprising if you knew someone there. The more likely scenario in my mind is that you have a 1st or 2nd degree connection but just don’t know it.
Is there a better way to connect conference attendees? A way to make networking more natural with fewer lame ice breakers?
LinkedIn for Events & Conferences
This is an idea that’s been floating in my mind the past week. The more people I talk to the more interest I’ve gotten. So far I haven’t met anyone who knows of something that does this.
I wanted to take this a step further and flesh out a Business Model Canvas for this idea. This will help me identify the key hypotheses that I’d need to test if I were to take this idea further. Or perhaps you’ll see this and want to run with it yourself!
When I say “conference”, this could be a meetup, trade show, presentation, off site, exhibition, training event or any other conference type where large numbers of people are gathering and there is an explicit or implied networking component.
- Conference attendees
- Conference hosting organizations & companies
- Conference aggregators like Lanyard
- Conference attendees get value from knowing about 1st & 2nd degree connections at a conference, making it easier to get the most out of the event networking
- Conference host organizations get value by creating a better experience for their attendees
- Conference aggregators get value from more site traffic as users come back frequently to see what conferences people in their network are attending
- Conference host organizations could offer this as a service to attendees, increasing distribution & awareness
- Advertise to attendees on sites like LinkedIn and Lanyard
- Identify all conferences in your geographical market in the next 90 days and contact the organizers directly
- SaaS model – customers upload attendee lists and the software automatically finds relevant matches for each attendee
- For the MVP we could use a concierge model to do the matches manually in the background
- Could do a free model to gain traction & awareness by giving this service away to attendees, positioning yourself as an acquisition target for a conference aggregator or site like LinkedIn itself
- Or, sell this as a service to conference host organizations; perhaps charge on a per conference basis based on the attendee list size
- Could sell premium services like recommended matches based on company or title (on top of 1st & 2nd degrees) or sending a digest email to attendees with their “matches”
- Will need to be able to capture LinkedIn data the way companies like RocketWhale and SalesLoft do
- Need access to attendee lists for conferences
- Need attendees to opt in and/or provide enough info to find their LinkedIn profile (and they need to have one)
- We’ll need near 100% attendee list access, ideally including email, name, company and more; if only a small portion of the attendees at a conference opt in, you won’t find matches and this won’t work
- Need to ensure we’re not violating LinkedIn terms & conditions
- Ensure that LinkedIn is a partner, or at a minimum indifferent; avoid competing/conflicting interests with these groups
- Groups like Lanyard, Meetup, Eventbrite, etc
I’m having trouble differentiating between Partners & Customers in this canvas.
- Development should be relatively inexpensive
- This business will be more value driven for the customer than cost driven
- Largest cost factor will be sales & marketing to conference host organizations – raise awareness, get buy in, communicating value prop, etc
And here you go! This is just the first draft of this Business Model Canvas. Let me know if you want to take it from here…