You've heard of speed dating, right? The definition, according to Wikipedia, is men and women are rotated to meet each other for only eight minutes each, are forced to the next round no matter how much they are enjoying the interaction (or dread the next one), then submit to the organizers a list of who they would like to see again. If there is a match, phone numbers are forwarded. They cannot be traded during the initial eight-minute meeting, to reduce pressure (especially on women) to accept or reject a suitor to their face.
I think we should put together an SEO Speed Networking event. No, not a conference. No speakers. No sessions. Let's face it. The very best part of a conference is the meeting and greeting of the people you talk to every day in the forums.
Now, this event wouldn't involve romance (well, not intentionally, anyway), but I think it would be loads of fun to get a chance to really meet everyone that we interact with online, but never get to meet in person. Even at conferences, this doesn't happen as often as we'd like, since there's so little non-session time, and so many people involved.
So rather than inviting all the business folk who are only at conferences to learn, we can limit it to those people who just want the networking aspect of it. Keep it simple and cheap.
I don't think the 8-minute rule would work very well, but I can envision tables of maybe 8-10 people gathered for half an hour or so, and then everyone switches to new tables for the next half-hour, and so on. Each person wears a name tag with both their real names and their forum names, of course, and everyone gets to meet everyone else.
Throw in some chips and dips or pretzels and peanuts, and you've got cheap fun at its finest. At the end of the day, you can round up the people you enjoyed the most, and go party at the local pub.
I guess this harkens back to the old days of the pub conferences, but with a little bit of forced meet-and-greet thrown in. And hey, if we don't invite the search engine reps, we might even get to share some real secrets. 🙂
Anyway, just thought I'd throw that idea out there.