This is a (brief) summary of an event I attended last week….
On Thursday (8th Feb 2018) I attended the UKSA (UK Space Agency) networking event in the BEIS Conference Centre in London (just off Parliament Square). It was a half day event designed to get as many players as possible from the space sector, together and talking. And to that effect I think that it was a complete success.
The event started with a lunch, and followed by a very engaging opening address from Lord (David) Willetts. The remainder of the event was split between presentations in some of the side rooms and more general networking in the main space. I think this format worked really well, as I attended one of the first side-room presentations but then found I was bumping into contacts enough (and was in the need for a cup of tea) that I spent the remainder of the time in the main room.
Looking around me, and talking to some of those who were present, there seemed to be a lot of networking going on – so the organisers should take this as a big win! It was interesting to see the different types of networking too. Some people were clearly there with a strategy and had pre-arranged meetings and meet-ups, and were not going to leave anything to chance. This looked quite intense! Others were there to catch up with people that they hadn’t seen for a long time and seemed content for serendipity to rule the afternoon. And then there were those who seemed to know relatively few people in the room but were making the effort to just randomly approach people and groups to make new contacts.
Having posted previously about the way in which people at networking events arrange themselves (closed two, open three etc), it was also very interesting to see how this was implemented by different people. And how it changed, if a conversation became more private i.e. swapping from open to closed, or vice versa.
I think that it might have helped those who were attending if there had been a 30-60 sec lightening introduction session where people could briefly say who they were and represented. I know this was in the event handbook, but knowing what someone looks like really helps – especially when there seems to be a sea of grey suits all around you (this is a personal bugbear – why does everyone conform to dull?)! Maybe an easier way around this for a future event would be to include delegate photos in the handbook.
Overall it was a great event, and I look forward to more in the future …. and to following up on opportunities with the new contacts I made last week.