On Thursday morning, the ROI Community sent out letters to a total of about 550 people. While many were elated at receiving acceptances to the 6th annual ROI Summit, many more were disappointed to learn that they wouldn’t be offered a space this year. And still others remain in limbo – hoping that they’ll be redeemed from the waitlist and sent up to the big show.
This happens every year – although not always with close to 600 applicants, more than half of whom probably would have made amazing contributions to this year’s summit and to the ROI network as a whole. But we just can’t have a 300-person ROI Summit: even if the cost and capacity weren’t factors, twice as many people would mean a dilution of the intensity of the conversations and the intimacy of the five-day Summit experience.
Personally, I have people from my immediate network who are on all three lists. So I’m like emotional tofu these days – at an even keel by myself, then alternately happy, sad, and in suspense as well, depending on the emails, Tweets, or phone calls I’m getting. Some people are angry that they weren’t accepted, others are hurt and feel like they’ve been told they don’t have anything of value to offer the network (or the Jewish innovation world). And that’s just not okay with me.
So I decided to suggest some things to remember about the ROI network that may help you look beyond your particular 2011 Summit status - whatever it is - and identify ways in which you can access the ROI network and conversations, this summer and all year.
- Opportunity Is Always Knocking: Throughout the year, ROI finds out about opportunities of interest to the young Jewish innovator population, and posts them on our website – so if you’re looking for a new gig, or to survey the available jobs or links to upcoming conferences, check it out. No, you don’t have to have attended a Summit to check them out or to apply. Just go there and click. (You’re welcome.)
- It’s a Small World After All: Even if you weren’t accepted, someone you know probably was. We’ll post a list of participants as soon as people confirm; check out the list and investigate their projects online Reach out to the person you know, or to the person most relevant to your work, and say, “Hey, congratulations… I’m looking for a person who can [whatever] for my project. While you’re at the Summit, could you keep me and my project in mind?” Set up (actual or virtual) coffees with them before the Summit, so that they can get to know you better, and after, to hear about their experiences. It’s the next best thing to being there.
- This Just In: World Wide Web Now Available WORLD WIDE!: At the ROI Community website, ROI’s Summit Central will be back and better than ever this year. We’ll be updating it with links, text, images and video as we go, both in advance of, during and, of course, after the Summit. We will even try to include content in languages other than English. Our Facebook page has always been open to all, regardless of Summit status, and has regular postings that autoupdate to Twitter (also a public account). Plus, if for some reason you forget that @ROICommunity is our Twitter handle or that the conference (and year-round) hashtag is #roicom, ROI Summit Central is where you can find that information again.
- Join Locally, Think Globally: ROIers are always encouraged to create local events in partnership with other people and organizations. Maybe you’d like to make contact with a local ROIer and suggest a program? Or host a visiting ROIer for a workshop or panel in your community? Benefit from the expertise of our ROIers and what they learn at this year's Summit, while building your community or program, and raising your visibility within ROI. While not a guarantee of future Summit acceptance, this enables you to be a part of the network now, and perhaps build a relationship for the future.
- Same Time, Next Year: This is the sixth Summit, and although no one knows for sure, I’d bet that we’ll be doing it again next year. Many of our current network members weren’t accepted their first time, and I’m certainly glad they decided to reapply. So if you’re not invited this year, it doesn’t mean that your work isn’t impressive. And it’s only a “no” for this year, not forever.
The members of the ROI staff share my personal commitment to creating additional opportunities for people everywhere to connect around Jewish creativity and innovation, online and in-person. In the works are regional gatherings in Europe and Latin America, and we are investigating further programming opportunities in Israel and North America.
So if you did get in, share your learnings and experiences with others in your network and community. And if you didn’t get in, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it might just be the start of something else.