This is Not a Pat on the Back, It’s a Criticism of Conferences

When I created the LinkedIn LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group, I meant it to be a community for our industry that was not product-specific and was run by people in our industry to reflect issues important to our industry.

In the four years I owned the group, I built it up to 3,000 members. It was the first such group in LinkedIn and, for much of my time as owner, number one in membership numbers.

Let me step back for a moment and say that I didn’t do this, alone. While I did probably build most of the membership up, I did have some help from other people, too. The point of this post is NOT to pat myself on the back.

Let’s review this – a single person, over four years, built an industry group to 3,000 members and ran it as moderator, which is also quite a lot of work. This person does have more contacts than many others in the industry, but is still a single person, not a big company.

In comparison, some of the conferences we pay a small fortune to attend give vague promises of continuing networking after the conference ends. Yet their groups are pitifully small. Some of the magazines and other related groups have built fairly unused groups in tools such as LinkedIn, as well. Consider that these conferences have many, many people attend them. Magazines brag that they have huge distribution numbers. Yet I haven’t seen one, yet, that has created much of a community to support the people they claim to want to support.

If you asked these people, they’d claim they’re just too busy to manage to build and maintain these groups. Here’s why – because it’s not important to them. For every conference that claims to be interested in maintaining learning outside the conference, they should make the time. “Shame on them,” I say. We’re all busy but we all make the time for what we think is important. This leads me to believe that all the rhetoric we get from conferences about how they want to encourage us to learn long after the conference is just hot air.

Notice that I haven’t beat-up too hard on the magazines, here. The reason is that I don’t think any of them have specifically promised to make this kind of thing work. I think that, on a whim, they’ve created these groups, thinking they could come in handy but never quite figuring out how. But with the conferences, quite a number of them like to flap their gums about this so I think they’re fair game.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

2 responses on “This is Not a Pat on the Back, It’s a Criticism of Conferences

  1. There are really no choices when it comes to community driven groups for sharing information. LinkedIn is falling apart. I will spare you the drama that is unfolding in the world of LinkedIn groups. It is so sad. Lucky for me I made a new and better home for the limsforum and the members are moving over rapidly.

    Conferences and mags are about selling marketing opportunities to consultants and vendors, period. Consultants and vendors are about selling products and services.

    Sharing information by these consultants and vendors is truly the best form of marketing and it is free. Naturally the conferences and mags don’t like to compete against free marketing venues like a vibrant group. I think that explains their attitude towards sharing or the lack thereof.

    The best form of marketing is sharing unbiased, user focused information and what’s more, it is free but it does require expertise that marketing people simply do not have. So don’t hold your breath waiting on conferences and mags to step up.

    • On top of that, we keep hearing about people leaving other tools, such as FaceBook. Now, there are groups that I belong to from MeetUp that are leaving that tool, as well. I do see your points about magazines and conferences but, in addition, I think the tools out there are losing some of their luster. I think they seemed pretty great when we all first started using them but, as time goes by, they aren’t perfect (nothing is) and we’re starting to become jaded about them. I don’t happen to know that that’s true, that’s just one theory I have about it.

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