Netsquared Conference – having second thoughts

Thanks to everyone who listened to my shameless plug for a nomination to attend the NetSquared Conference but I’m not hopeful I’ll be attending.

No, I haven’t heard anything…and that’s exactly the issue.

I may be way off base on this, but this conference doesn’t strike me as being very well organized. Grassroots and community-driven doesn’t have to mean sloppy and thrown together.

39 days out from the conference, and the website still has a “let’s put on a show” feel about it. A lot is still up in the air, speakers not confirmed, details sparse and still loosely defined. Let’s say I wasn’t waiting to hear about a scholarship…would I be confident spending $300, plus airfare, lodging and expenses to attend this? I’m not so sure. If activity is happening for the conference behind the scenes, then aren’t the organizers playing only to their “inside” crowd and violating the very nature of what they profess to be building?

Worse, the scholarship page says:

Scholarships cover airfare, hotel, and conference fees. Nominations are due by April 12th, and applicants will be notified of their status by April 21st. We encourage you to apply for a scholarship!

It’s April 21st, and the page has not been updated to reflect the fact that the application deadline has passed. The form is still there. I sent an email to the organizers this morning asking about my status…nothing yet.

On top of that, let’s say I get this scholarship…it’s a crazy week. I would have to fly out to San Jose on Memorial Day. Attend the conference on May 30 and 31. Fly home early on June 1, repack and my flight leaves for Atlanta at 7 pm that night. We’re exhibiting at the ASCO Annual Meeting in Atlanta and there’s been an incredible amount of prep work on that (a blog post unto itself). I’ll be home again on June 6.

Do I want to do that kind of traveling, put Eric through a week of solo parenting and juggle so many activities for an event that I’m not confident is competently organized? Am I misjudging the conference based on my impressions off the website? I thought the point of this conference was to learn and network, not build a castle out of dust. As interested as I am in the social web and using technology to help extend the reach of the nonprofit message, my mission is to engage an advocacy community around colorectal cancer. Not to be so focused on the tools that I lose sight of the mission that I’m using the tools for in the first place.

Non-profit doesn’t mean cheap, open source doesn’t mean slapped together, community-driven doesn’t mean disorganized. Non-profit/open source/community-driven are simply words to describe the means of delivery…one has no reason to expect anything less than professional, timely communication and attention to detail.

Update (9:20 pm): I knew that this entry would be the equivalent of telling the conference organizers (if the decision had not already been made), "Please remove my name from consideration" and sure enough, this arrived in my inbox a few minutes ago (along with a second identical email to my address but it says "Dear Lori" at the top…I guess there’s a Lori somewhere still waiting):

Dear Judi,

Thank you so much for your application for a NetSquared conference scholarship. We had tremendous interest and a relatively limited number of scholarships available, and regret to inform you that we cannot offer your organization a conference scholarship.

Neither surprised nor disappointed. Relieved actually. The timing wasn’t right on a lot of levels. Everything happens for a reason. 


2 responses to “Netsquared Conference – having second thoughts”

  1. Judi,

    I guess I’m the culprit. We had many scholarship submissions from Colorectal Cancer Coalition and I tried to avoid sending duplicate messages to everyone. We got inundated with submissions. It was incredibly hard to make the choices on this. I’ve been getting a stream of disappointed messages. Please forgive us. The Colorectal Cancer Coalition is obviously doing incredibly great work.

    -jim lynch

  2. (also sent via email)

    Jim, thanks for the comment and for the nice words about our organization.

    What you may not have realized is that all the nominations from the Colorectal Cancer Coalition were to nominate me. No one else from the organization expressed an interest in the conference. I am confident that no one in the organization would have nominated themselves without telling me.

    In truth, the form was a bit confusing as to where the nominator name should be versus the nominatee, and it’s entirely possible that someone mis-entered the information which led you to believe that there were multiple submissions from our organization. Perhaps this is a learning you can take forward for future conferences.

    Regardless, I think things work out as they should in the long run and I wish you the best of success on the conference. I look forward to reading and learning about it from the sidelines.