Thursday, April 2, at the Tenley Campus of American University in DC, saw another sold-out edition of the successful Social Matchbox DC networking event, headed up by Robert and Juliana Neelbauer. (See Shashi’s event preview blog post.)
Washington Post tech columnist Kim Hart has a good event writeup, which features a photo from our own Shashi (you can see even mo’ bettah pictures in his Flickr set from the event). So what’s left unsaid for me?
I did grab a chance to have a quick talk with founder Robert Neelbauer, so I’ll post that in a subsequent entry. Here now, are just a few shotgun-style personal observations:
* Social Matchbox is a little more structured than other types of tech networking events; established companies, startups, and even not-quite-startups do three-minute presentations (hence the unofficial “speed dating for geeks” slogan), interspersed with opportunities for attendee networking. (It typically ends with an open-mike segment, though it was cut this time due to time constraints.)
* Business opportunity: Pre-event presentation coaching. Considering some of the cringe-inducing performances I’ve seen over the years, including any number of low-talkers, pocket-jinglers, and generally incomprehensible speakers, I’m thinking this is gold.
The presenters this time around were pretty good, though there’s always room for improvement, and there are enough things out of a presenter’s control to worry about (remember, every room, AV setup, and audience is different).
If you’re going to present, rehearse, preferable with video — friends may lie, but video doesn’t. Neither do stopwatches, lest you run afoul of timekeeper Juliana:
At the very least, pay attention to other folks so you know what the room sounds like, or have a confederate there to give you the high sign when your volume goes too low.
Also, it’s not usually wise to forgo the microphone — even if you project well, they might need it if the event is being recorded or streamed.
It seemed to work okay — once you’re registered in, point at another MingleStick and click to swap info. But the novelty wore off quickly, and I like having context, even if it’s scrawled on the back of a business card. I guess I’m hopelessly analog that way.
I do note that we had to turn in the devices at the end of the night, and I still haven’t gotten my contacts to the e-mail address I provided.
* Several companies slotted to present were no-shows. Like with many raffles, hey, you gotta be present to… present. I was mildly tempted to jump on stage and spout nonsense on their behalf.
* One of the companies presenting (Root Orange) was in “stealth mode.” It’s hard to do a pitch for something when you can’t talk about it. If you have a personal track record, that’s something, but otherwise, there just isn’t a lot for other people to go on.
* DubMeNow, was another company looking to build a better mousetrap for contact swapping and management, using smart phones and other mobile devices. I still don’t get why people have such a big problem with business cards.
Anyway, it was a good event, though I didn’t stick around for the dinner afterwards. Check out the Social Matchbox site for a full list of presenters, including video interviews. And stay tuned for my own interview with founder Robert Neelbauer.
Were you at the event? Are you vehemently anti-business card? Got a tale of presentation woe you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.Google+