Having been away from the singles scene for the last few decades or so, I was a tad nervous about the blind date that was set up for me last week in London.
Although the guy turned out to be tall, dark, and handsome in a generic sort of way, those weren’t the personal attributes on his bio that interested me. And I had no idea if he is in touch with his feelings, enjoys riding horses bareback on the beach at sunset, or raises pet gerbils as a hobby. Likewise, he didn’t know whether I have a good personality or if my weight is proportional to my height.
Actually, the entry on his bio that compelled me the most was the fact that he is responsible for the implementation of PLM (product lifecycle management) in my organization. The other thing that convinced me that we were practically destined to be soul mates was the fact that one of his key business challenges is coming up with an ROI for software expenditures. It’s a topic I’m pretty keen about, given that it’s a pet peeve for so many Design News readers.
This so-called date was actually set up as a “speed dating for business” session, which is a major selling point of the PLM European Summit. Held this week in London, it’s a conference that’s promoted as “providing networking opportunities and practical advice for people charged with implementing PLM.”
Though events of this sort have always been networking venues, organizers of the PLM Summit don’t want to leave those interactions to mere chance—serving in the capacity of a kind of professional matchmaker. Three weeks beforehand, attendees are sent the bios of other attendees as well as vendor company reps (vendors pay more for getting on the dance card). Each attendee is then invited to pick out those people they’d like to set up short, 20-minute “dates” during a special three-hour speed-dating session.
Does this kind of scheduled networking work?
Apparently so. This is the second year of the conference, and Lisa Wulf, a marketing manager with Access Events, says that attendance (approximately 200) was up from last year. And from what I could observe, attendees who were paired off at café tables during the speed dating sessions seemed to be in animated discussions. But just like in the real world of dating, not everyone was a happy customer.
Mahmoud Mansour, European Manager, PLM, for the giant auto supplier Lear Corp., told me that the $2,500 conference fee was a bit steep for the contacts he made.
As conference organizers look for more ways to generate revenue by bringing together buyers and sellers, it’s likely we’ll see more of this kind of structured networking. What’s your preference—leave-it-to-chance or professional matchmaking? Drop me a line and I’ll share letters online and in an upcoming letters section at [email protected].