Why party at Macworld Expo?
Macworld Expo is not only about computers and software, it's about information, people and contacts. Remember the three Cs -- contacts, communicate, and contacts. After a busy day moving between the user conferences and the show floor, there's still a long night of potential schmoozing ahead. Lots of people that you see at the parties are people whom you probably wouldn't meet at the Expo during the daytime. Some Macworld Expo attendees spend all their time in their company booth on the show floor, while others are there as civilians and have no real point of contact at the show itself. Many of the Macworld Expo attendees keep coming back year after year because they're here for the socializing, and the chance to find out what's happening before it happens on the web or in the market place. We're talking about networking; serious, no pain, no gain networking.
Whether your company pays your way or you buy your own ticket, if you plan to attend the next Macworld Expo it's worth getting your name on a few after-show party invitation lists. Whether you go alone or in the company of pals, you need to know where it's at before you can be where it's at.
How to find out about Macworld Expo parties
Know about the parties first. Start at the Hess Memorial Macworld Party List that's updated by Ilene Hoffman. Ilene is a Macintosh writer and an internet talk show host who lives, sleeps, eats and breathes Macintosh, so, when it comes to Macworld Expo parties, her party list is the one to watch. Ilene reminds me that it wasn't her idea, but the brainchild of the creative and social Mac writer Robert Hess.
Several weeks before the Expo, log on to one of Ilene's IRC chats at Talk City. She hosts Mac conferences at 7:00 PM PT in channel #Computer-Macsos twice a week. You can always find key Macworld speakers as guests before (and after) the Expo. (5/01: Please note these chats no longer exist.)
How to get invited to Macworld Expo parties
After this latest Macworld Expo New York 99, Ilene hosted a follow-up conference with guest speaker and Macintosh writer Andy Ihnatko. During the chat, Andy estimated that half his business at the Expo was done at parties. When asked what the general criteria for getting invited to parties was, Andy offered five ideas:
"Idea One: Be America's 42nd Most-Beloved Industry Figure and let the Industry's love for you and all you've done for it do all the work.
Idea Two: Network. Just ask. Start off with Ilene's party list. Cozy up to the marketing guy or gal at whatever company's giving the party, convince them that you're a cool frood, and say, "Hey, any parties this week that I should know about?" and leave it up to them.
Idea Three: Network. Seriously. Friends-of-friends are your friends in this. Also, if you can score an invite to just one good party -- like one of the several "hyphenates" sponsored by Apple and ten partners -- you might hook up there with people with invites to the next party.
Idea Four: Human engineering. Read as much Expo coverage as you can find. Usually you'll find people talking about the cool parties. Most of these companies host parties every expo. So you know that if you get cozy with someone from MetaCreations, you might be in the pipeline for a good party in January.
Final Idea: Be one of the "right people." Realize that there's a reason why all these parties are invite-only. They want certain people to be there, namely: Press, Consultants, Trainers, and MIS people at large installations. People who, by virtue of what they do for a living, can do good things either directly or indirectly for the company and the product. For that reason, one of the simpler things is to just try to get on the Press list for the show. Get something published within six months of the show. This will entitle you to a press credential. Call or write IDG with the clipping (or the URL) and try to get on the list. If you register as press early, then your name and address go out to all of the exhibitors, and you'll probably score a few invites just because you're in the database.
Again, that's just the sort of person they want at the party. Someone who can go back to work wearing the MetaCreations Poser 4 tee shirt and subconsciously raising the chances of MC's selling 400 copies to the Gummint."
How to behave at MacWorld Parties with some shots from the after affects
Wear a mask: Many Macworld partygoers have digital cameras fused to their bodies. No dorky pose will go unrecorded -- no extra chin, no lazy eye or lolling head will be left unlit by the camera's harsh flash. Before you are rolling out of bed the next morning your partying image will be loading on screens across the world. You could be digitally captured forever in the unflattering throes of sleep-deprivation research. Ilene notes that bearers of cameras are not necessarily the *most* popular people at a party -- Hey! Who wants to be exposed in a compromising position? So, if you're new to the party scene, wear the camera inside the coat, and move around surreptitiously and take only the most tasteful candids.
While discussing this aspect of Expo parties, Chris Breen, Contributing Editor of Macworld magazine, joked recently, "That's why I always wear my Bob LeVitus mask at Expo parties."
Don't actually party: Andy Inhatko suggests, "There are also lots of individuals who wanna talk and give you info about something. When you seem to be hooked up to a good party, you go. You order one gin and tonic. You keep your head clear and have a smile for people and you listen like hell, and when the guy staggers off you scribble furiously in your Newton before you forget what he told you."
Thank the host: Andy Inhatko suggests, "And before you leave, if there's a host or hostess to be thanked, then thank him or her personally. People remember that. He got an invite, and he showed up, and he was a nice guy, let's put him on the list for next year."
Parties We've Seen
As press, we were invited to two memorable parties at this year's expo. I never did get a chance to thank the hosts, but Ingram Micro Resellers held the 'Ingram goes to Mars' party in at an atmospheric club called Mars. Thanks, Ingram.
Intuit also held a press party down on the water, at a golf driving range on a pier. Between drinks we were treated to lessons from their golf pro, who really improved my swing. Demonstrations of deluxe Quicken 2000, the personal finance software, were like preaching to the converted. It's a great program.
The Intuit party gets my vote as being the most fun, even including the elusive Mac the Knife party. Although I have the t-shirt to show for it, this year's Mac the Knife party seemed to be more about getting there than being there. Sometimes that's how it is -- it's all about the journey, not the destination.
Ilene notes that the two most coveted party invitations are usually Apple's party the night of the keynote and the Mac The Knife party. Apple's party is always way too crowded, hard to hold a decent conversation, but a great time if you like to dance and drink. Normally only developers and selected press receive invitations. If you must be there, feel free to create the next great Mac product, and you will be invited!
The "Knife" party is the most coveted invitation to acquire. It is really nothing special (she grins slyly); unless you have something to share. Normally held in a hole in the wall bar, it's also way too crowded, often devoid of decent music, and full of the most fascinating and bright Macintosh devotees you will ever meet. The Knife's reputation is as the industry insider's place to be seen. The most recent Knife parties have been sponsored by a benevolent vendor, which is a new feature, and as a consequence the music is getting better. The key to getting there is having information no one else has access to, and to let the right people know you have it. Who are the right people? Well, that's part of the puzzle too.
Party on Macworlders!