Alex Hillman got an inside look on the Coworking Europe Conference in Brussels from a friend who attended the event. He discussed the event with Sam Abrams.
A conference can be used to share what you know. However, no one should go into a conference thinking that they know more. There should be no feeling of superiority within the space. The conference was valuable in how much knowledge and ideas were put out in the open. There can also be value in figuring out what you do not like and what you do not want to implement.
Emphasis on Members
Most conferences lack a members perspective. It is not just that we do not hear from members themselves, but we do not hear stories about them either. People respond to talk about members. Conferences are communities of people who are resources for other members. The lack of prominence of members in conferences is one of the biggest shortcomings of these types of events. Even interviews of members tend to focus on the space that they come from rather than the member themself. Members are one of the most important resources.
The people on stage are not used to thinking of the people they are presenting to as their peers. They tend to view them as another sales pitch because they are so used it. An active effort should be made to reduce the number of speakers who own or operate spaces. Try to find members or people who are industry adjacent. People outside of the realm of owners and operators can provide new content. There are usually a lot of talks on how someone went about opening their own space and background.
What Was Done Well
A lot of very thoughtful people with different kinds of spaces talked about how they take care of their community and what kinds of things were implemented but did not work out. Attendees were able to have in depth discussions about personal experiences with individuals. The fact that people were willing to contribute to such a meaningful conversation was proof of the potential of the conference. These discussions allow people to connect with each other which is one of the most important aspects of a conference.