What’s all this Coworking Unconference stuff?
We hear the word conference dropped into conversation all the time. For many the concept of a conference is almost an enviable elite status; the ability to travel having time off work but with all the benefits of working ie being paid to go! But what on earth is a Coworking unconference?
An unconference is a participant-driven meeting with the content of the day being suggested and presented by the attendees. It basically means that if you want to learn more about a subject you can ask the question and bring together a room of people to answer it for you. It is an interactive, inclusive and intriguing way to immerse yourself in new ideas learning from peers and experts.
As a business development manager for Meeting Hub, my role involves engaging with clients & prospects regarding their meeting room booking solution requirements. The key to a successful Unconference is “Ad breaks”. Build relationships first, understand & genuinely get to know people and wait for them to ask what you do, and give you permission to “pitch”.
Having recently attended one of the largest Coworking Unconferences in Asia, I thought I would share my top tips for attending an unconference for the first time.
Focus on what you want to get out of this
Think about it on the flight over. Think about it on your ride in. Think about it all throughout the event days. There are so many people, so many ideas and so much content that it can be easy to become distracted and over-inspired. If you focus on your goal and keep it in the forefront of your mind you can take all the knowledge from both speakers and attendees and apply it to your goal throughout the event.
Bring business cards
Pack your business cards. Then go back and pack more. You will meet so many amazing people with whom you will want to keep in contact. The last thing you want to do is run out of business cards.
Participate and speak up
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or contribute content during a Q&A. It may be overwhelming, especially for those of us that aren’t gifted with public speaking. But there is a wealth of knowledge in the room and unless you ask your questions and contribute your ideas the topics may veer away from the information that you want to receive. Chances are someone else is the room also wants the answer to the question.
Volunteer a topic for the unconference
What better way of getting the most out of your time than proposing to run a topic. A room full of like minded individuals will join you for an interactive and community run topic. This is pure collaboration, idea sharing and networking. Find someone with similar interests and run the session together!
Jump into a conversation
If you are walking past a group of people and overhear relevant conversation, join them! Everyone is here for the same reason and your new collaboration partner could be standing in that group.
Attend the after events
It may be tempting to sneak back to your hotel and catch up on emails but going out for drinks and socialising beyond the conference walls can be the best way to make meaningful, long-lasting connections with people.
Don’t focus on the work you could be doing, or the long list of items you are going back to; they will be there regardless. Be present in the moment and take in all the information that you can. Actively engage in the topics, meet all the people and participate in all the activities. Use this time to realign your goals, focus on what matters most and get inspired!
There are loads of “Un”conferences out there to choose from. Meeting Hub is a regular attendee at most of these. You may have seen us at GCUC in LA (2016), or GCUC New York in 2017 and at our very own Melbourne GCUC (2017). If not, hope to see you soon at the next one! If you’re not already following the crew @ GCUC then you should check them out!