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Most Innovative Meetings 2014: #7 PTTOW Summit

The invite-only conclave for entrepreneurs and experts deployed networking ambassadors and “speed dating” to give attendees the chance to connect in a meaningful way.

By Martha C. White December 9, 2014, 5:45 AM EST

This year marked the debut of a new speed-dating-like networking event called “Spark Sessions.”

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for PTTOW

At the sixth annual PTTOW Summit in May, attendees had plenty of new ways to network, including through a crew of “ambassadors” who facilitated initial connections for the invite-only crowd of around 180 marketing leaders from major brands and technology, advertising, and media companies. This year also marked the debut of a networking event called Spark Sessions. “We initially thought it was a speed-dating-meets-Shark Tank in which people would pitch ideas,” said designer and producer Sarah Lowy, co-founder of Jowy Productions.

It eventually focused more on the former than the latter, Lowy said, since the organizers wanted to avoid subjecting participants to the hard sell. The 144 PTTOW members who took part participated in 300 of the eight-minute sessions. Attendees got networking assistance from a team of ambassadors, staffers who were there exclusively to act as liaisons between participants and facilitate initial introductions. There was also the “face wall,” 2- by 3-foot photos of every participant in the foyer leading into the general session. “It was a nice welcome feature and also everyone likes to see themselves,” Lowy said. “We’re at a hotel, so we try to keep it fresh. This was a nice addition as well as creating a cool space.”

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