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The Social Challenges Of Growth: Shop.org

The annual Shop.org conference in NYC this week is BIG. I think I heard a figure of 2200 attendees, the largest Shop.org ever. On the one hand, growth is positive. The show is getting larger because (a) online retail is growing in importance and because (b) the show programming is high quality. Kudos to the Shop.org board and to Scott Silverman, Shop.org executive director, for that. On the other hand, bigger also means less personal. Earlier Shop.orgs had a slightly different atmosphere. More interactive banter and friendly heckling from the audience during talks. Fewer suits, more rolled-up shirt sleeves. Less polished powerpoint decks. Shorter lunch lines. More humor from the podium. Less noisy networking mixers. More audience-to-audience Q&A, vs. audience-to-speaker Q&A. I think NEMOA faces similar growth challenges. Great small shows become popular and then grow into medium-sized shows. Medium and large shows can be great too, but they're often great in different ways than small shows. At the mixer, Shop.org chair Elaine Rubin stressed the importance of community building among shop.org members. It'll be interesting to see how Shop.org uses online and offline strategies to keep the organization feeling small, even as membership and attendence grows.
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