Creative Enterprise is a support initiative, part funded by the ERDF, aimed at creative graduates, new enterprises and established businesses based within the West Midlands. As part of their offer they hold an annual conference with speakers and subjects from a wide cross-section of the Creative Industries.
In 2012 Creative Enterprise put out a tender for a company to support with facilitating delegate interaction and networking. changing cultures won the tender and put together a framework designed to lead to a free exchange of ideas and information between the delegates in an inspirational and memorable way.
One of our skills is being able to marry our expertise and experience as creative professionals with our knowledge of the business and commercial sector.
We began by setting up a website where delegates could register ahead of the event, upload a profile and picture, and see who else had registered for the event. This also allowed them to make contact with each other in advance of the conference. We did not ask the standard questions on upload. We were not interested in specific artforms, business descriptions or career ideas. We were interested in delegates’ values, ethos and motivation.
By focusing on the WHY, rather than the WHAT, we were able to generate unforeseen collaborations and connections. As creative professionals with long successful careers, we passionately believe in true collaborations sparked by passion and values – and being open to these developing from unlikely encounters.
As well as delegates being able to arrange their own meetings during designated timeslots, we also undertook the task of matching groups of people together. As part of the process of setting up the ‘dates’, participants were given a location from a selection of meeting place clichés: under the oak tree; at the taxi rank etc. At the conference these meeting places were created as installations around the venue. On arrival delegates were also given one of a number of props to enable them to easily spot one another e.g. a red rose; a rolled newspaper; a striped umbrella.
We succeeded in generating a real sense of warmth and willingness to interact at the conference, providing an environment with a sense of play but which was also practical and professional. We changed the conditions for networking and increased people’s success at talking to, and making connections with other delegates: making the most out of the people in the room and the event itself.
As a result we were asked to work with Creative Enterprise again in 2013 to build on our successes – this time, in addition to running our networking framework over two days, we were also asked to deliver the opening Keynote Speech. You can read Nicola’s reflection here.
In true changing cultures fashion, we took what we had learned in 2012 to make 2013 bigger, better and brighter – using our understanding of how to network successfully and introducing a more developed technical dimension which we now include in our conference package Conference Connect.
To read our clients testimonials visit WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT US.