Unconference? Wha? Huh?
I outdid myself today explaining to a potential sponsor that the format for John Sumser’s Atlanta Recruiting Roadshow was modeled after the increasingly popular “unconference” format to which my would-be benefactor replied, “Unconference? Wha? Huh?”
Having confused the issue by contrasting a traditional conference where sponsors expect something in return for their “investment” with sponsorship for this event — more like to making a donation — I tried to explain that sponsorship dollars should be given expecting nothing in return, at best in anticipation of a boomerang effect.
I tried to rebut “What the hell are you talking about?” by referencing the network economy — “No, no, no! Not Kelly Services!” — and abundance theory. After going at it non-stop for 30-minutes my patron-in-waiting was ready to give it up for Atlanta. Phew!
The discussion turned to money. Oh, dear.
“What do you mean I can give any amount that matches the value I place on supporting the network?”
“What do you mean my logo will be the same size as everyone elses regardless of how much I choose to give?”
“What do you mean I can’t pass out brochures or offer discounts or promote my stuff or tout for business?”
“Does Sumser know what you’re up to? What about his accountant?”
So, rather than try and explain it all again and confuse the dickens out of everyone let me simply ask:
If you would like to sponsor the Atlanta event or would like to support us in some other material way please send me an email at recruitingroadshow (at) gmail.com. The only thing I can promise in return is hero’s welcome on September 25th and a uniformly-sized logo on the sponsor’s page [in the works]. Maybe a press release or two. For sure, we’ll love you for it.
If on the other hand you think there are more deserving causes thank you for making your contributions there in recognition of this call for support. If you want a more deserving cause but can’t find one, visit Kiva.org and consider supporting them instead.
For my bamboozled benefactor I found this article in a recent BusinessWeek called Take Your PowerPoint And… It explains better than I ever could what unconferences are all about and why its perfectly okay to keep your money in your pocket:
Free classified ads on Craigslist threaten newspapers. Open-source software is gaining on Microsoft and Oracle. Now the convention business faces its own Web-inspired competition: the “unconference.”
Unconferences turn the plodding, predictable business gathering inside out. They’re a hybrid of a teach-in and a jam session, with a little show-and-tell mixed in, and they are attracting hundreds in cities like Austin, Tex., Bangalore, San Francisco, Sydney, and Tokyo. Unlike traditional, $1,000-a-head and up conferences, they’re totally unstructured—the agenda isn’t determined until the opening day of the event. Everyone who shows up is a potential speaker, and those who don’t speak contribute by posting photos, blog entries, podcasts, and video clips of the proceedings. Neckties and heels are noticeably absent. And attendance is almost always inexpensive or free.
See you at the Roadshow!
Posted by: Amitai Givertz