Tuesday, March 13, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Chicago ~ by Kelly Markham

Chicago's biggest party this month was the south-side Irish parade but the runner-up was Big Frontier's Networking Extravaganza. On March 13, Excalibur Nightclub was packed with 300 busy internet executives looking to eat, drink, and socialize.

I entered Excalibur and was greeted by the Big Frontier admission booth where I exchanged my business card for a yo-yo, name tag and drink ticket. As I made my way up to the second floor, I squeezed into the crowd and noticed the event was separated into 3 areas: main networking, pink slip jamboree, and panel of power.

I moved about the floor and entertained several conversations. The topics floated around Greenspan, employment and wireless. Later, I "pink slipped" into the jamboree and chatted with job seekers while they jumped from booth-to-booth looking for employment. Aquent, Tarzian Search Consultants and Parallel Partners were some of the firms meeting with candidates.

At 6:30 p.m., I traveled across the room to the Panel of Power. Shaye Mandle, president of the Illinois Coalition, introduced the speakers and began the discussion about Chicago's Wireless Future. Dan Miller, Sun-Times business editor, and Rob Kaiser, Chicago Tribune Tech Reporter, discussed their personal habits regarding mobility and answered numerous questions from the crowd. Motorola, the leading player in Chicago's mobile economy, "hot-synched" the event with a wireless raffle. The winners received two Motorola Walkabouts.

At 10:00 p.m., the frenzy of networking started to slow-down and the organizers packed up their equipment. As I passed the empty buffet tables, I noticed I had a glass full of ice, a yo-yo and a pocket full of business cards. Yet, another successful event!

Tune in next month when Comdex comes to Chicago, April 2-5.