When we all rushed to create virtual conferences, it became apparent that a bit of the magic of in-person events was missing. People were missing those accidental but meaningful connections that spontaneously happened in hallways, before sessions, and during meals.
Here’s an example: Jill is chatting with a fellow grad Dan, who she hasn’t seen in 7 years. While they are talking, Dan’s co-worker Randy walks up, and Dan says, “this is amazing timing. Randy, you’ve got to talk to Jill. She’s a pioneer in just the technology I know you’ve become interested in.” Fast forward a few hours, and Randy and Jill are inseparable!
By mid-2020, we had identified the missing ingredient, and the association community was trying to develop solutions. One association leader said, “we need to learn how to engineer serendipity.” Another said, “we need to curate these chance encounters.” How about planned serendipity? Or designed accidental connections? As we were talking about the concept, we started to name it.
One way to spot a trend coming at you at 90 miles an hour is to listen to the way members are playing with descriptive language. In an attempt to express their thoughts, they will eventually try to name the idea. Spot a bunch of various names being tossed around, and you’ve just grabbed hold of a budding trend.