Attending industry events is a great way to learn about the latest developments in your field, meet like-minded professionals, and expand your network. However, when I recently attended the Small Satellites & Services International Forum in Malaga, Spain, I was disappointed to find that there was no networking tool, like a mobile application, or LinkedIn event, to connect with other attendees prior to the event. When I asked the organizers about it, they explained to me that they were intentionally avoiding "broadcasting" the guest list and keeping the event small to maintain an intimate atmosphere where people could network in peace without being bombarded by sales pitches.
While I initially found this approach frustrating, I came to appreciate the reasoning behind it. By keeping the event small and the guest list private, the organizers were able to curate a more exclusive and high-quality experience. They were able to invite experts from prestigious institutions like ESA and NASA to speak at the event and ensure that attendees were genuinely interested in the topics and sessions being presented.
Furthermore, by limiting the number of attendees, the organizers were able to create a more relaxed and productive environment for networking. Attendees could engage in meaningful conversations without feeling rushed or pressured, and they could focus on building genuine relationships rather than just exchanging business cards.
In retrospect, I realized that my initial desire for a mobile application or public guest list was misguided. By trying to maximize my networking opportunities, I would have risked diluting the quality of the event and turning it into "just another industry tradeshow". Instead, by embracing the organizers' vision for a more exclusive and intimate gathering, I was able to connect with some truly amazing people and have some truly memorable conversations.
Thanks to the organizers' decision to keep the whole event "low-key" and focus on creating a relaxed networking environment, I was able to connect with some truly impressive individuals. In particular, I had the pleasure of meeting Jordi Puig-Suari, a professor and aerospace technology developer who is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the small satellites industry. Puig-Suari is the co-inventor of the CubeSat standard, which he developed together with Bob Twiggs. This revolutionary satellite design has become a cornerstone of the small satellites industry and has enabled countless scientific and commercial missions. Meeting Puig-Suari was a true highlight of the conference for me, and I was grateful for the opportunity to connect with such an accomplished and inspiring individual.
So, the next time you attend a conference or industry event, don't be too quick to judge the organizers' approach. Sometimes, a more selective and focused gathering can lead to greater opportunities for meaningful networking and collaboration.
Special thanks to David González Busch for taking the time to discuss your visions and efforts. I had a marvelous time... and yes, I will certainly try to attend next year, again!