The convention ideas roundup is here.
When conventions focus on career events, its usually panels, workshops and demos. This is and should be the norm, since these are the things people want and need. I'd suggest conventions consider one addition to all of this.
A professional networking event.
Take an hour for people interested in going pro and give them a place to talk, exchange cards, and find out more about careers from each other. INvite people from the professional panels you do run. Have handouts and documents from recruiters, local businesses, etc. For that matter, see if a local – or national – job board or service would want to sponsor it (oh, I'd love to see LinkedIN.com sponsor a geek networking event).
I confess it would be challenging – you'd probably need some icebreakers, and it may take a year or two to really reach a good self-perpetuating pace – but I think it's a worthy experiment. People network at conventions anyway, adding professional networking to the mix would be a good goal to have.
The benefits I see:
- It's another social event. In general, I'm all for those.
- It would let fans connect on a different level than the usually do – one that benefits them professionally.
- Gathering your "pro panel" speakers would let them network with each other and further talk to and inform attendees.
- It's a way to involve recruiters and colleges if you invite them as I mentioned previously.
- Done right, it could be an event that grows and helps promote the convention.
- It acts as a foundation for future professional events.
Again, this is more a theory of mine – but if anyone wants to try it out I'd be happy to lend some suggestions . . .
– Steven Savage