What would you bring to SOCAP17? If you have an idea for a panel, workshop, curated experience or other type of content, and are prepared to develop that idea and bring it to SOCAP17 this October in San Francisco, please share it with us through SOCAP Open.
People who have content ideas often ask us for tips on the “best” way to write their SOCAP Open proposal. So here are all of our suggestions for how to craft a stronger proposal that will be much more likely to garner attention, support, and votes. These tips come directly from SOCAP leaders who have been reading proposals, watching voting patterns, reviewing, and selecting SOCAP Open content for years. If you follow these guidelines closely as you write your SOCAP Open proposal you are likely to increase your chances of seeing your idea up on stage at SOCAP17.
Choose a topic that provides value to the SOCAP community.
Your proposed content should provide obvious appeal and value to the SOCAP community.
SOCAP convenes the marketplace at the intersection of money and meaning, bringing together values-aligned investors, creative foundations and government agencies, service providers and intermediaries, and some of the most innovative social entrepreneurs from around the world. Select a topic that you know will interest and engage SOCAP community members.
Share a key insight, explore a complex problem, illuminate a hidden opportunity, issue a call to action. Don’t advertise or self-promote.
Write for a specific audience.
When you write your description, think about the people you want to reach. Tailor the description to the people who are most likely going to be interested in your topic. Tell them in clear language what will they will learn or do in your session. Session proposals that are too broad or general are less successful than sessions that have a clear topic or headline.
Be inclusive. Diversity is required.
The social capital market is being built by individuals from around the world, diverse in gender, generation, ethnicity, race, culture, expertise, opinion and more. Make sure that your panel reflects the diversity of the conference. We will require that all SOCAP17 panels include gender diversity, as well as racial or ethnic diversity, so consider this early as you think through your panel composition and topic.
Your title may be the only thing some SOCAP Open voters will read. Catch readers’ interest immediately with a great title. Consider how to make your session title both concise and compelling.
Describe your idea and its value clearly.
No matter how familiar you may be with your topic, remember that most of the people reading your description will not have the same field of reference. Avoid jargon, and be clear about your content’s potential value. Be only as detailed as you need to be to explain your topic.
We strongly advise against blatant advertorial content.
SOCAP is about exchanging ideas and pushing the field forward. Most of us come to SOCAP for authentic conversations and explorations, and thus shy away from overly advertorial topics. If you have a product or service that you think SOCAP audiences need to hear about, think deeply about whether or not your session only serves to promote that product or service. Exceptions we’ve found to be successful at SOCAP are panels around the launch of a recent study or report, and workshops that give participants a sample framework or tools that may be part of a broader service.
Choose a moderator for a panel.
Moderators are usually the anchor member of a successful panel session. If you are proposing a panel session we strongly urge you to name a moderator who understands the topic and its relationship to each panelist. It the moderator’s job to engage the participants while keeping the session focused and dynamic.
Check with potential moderators and panelists before submitting your proposal.
Propose moderators and panelists that you already have a relationship with and you know are very likely to accept your invitation to participate. Also think about who in your network would be a draw, attracting attendees to your session. We ask that you do your best to confirm that speakers are interested in participating before you submit your session idea. The speakers listed for a session will have an impact on the selection process.
While we strongly recommend that you confirm your speakers before you make your entry, you can still enter the name and fill in the information about your relationship with the speaker (including if you do not know them) in the unconfirmed box.
Promote your proposal through your networks.
Promote your proposal on your blog and through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media channels. Rallying your friends and associates to vote for your session proposal demonstrates energy, motivation and organizational ability. All of these skills are important when it comes to organizing a successful session for SOCAP. Please remember that high voting totals alone will NOT guarantee you a speaking slot and that online self-promotion is best when done appropriately and in moderation.
Engage with comments from voters.
When submitting your idea, we have created a default opt-in for you to receive an email notification when people comment on your idea. We highly encourage monitoring your idea’s comment feed and engaging with the people who are interested in contributing and discussing your idea.
Check out previous SOCAP content for inspiration and guidance.
If you have never attended SOCAP, it is very beneficial to read prior session descriptions and watch programming from previous conferences before drafting your proposal. You can view the full schedule, with session descriptions and speakers, from SOCAP16 on our Pathable community site. You can also watch a selection of video excerpts from past SOCAP events by visiting the SOCAPmarkets YouTube Channel.
We look forward to reviewing your proposal!
For the 2016 conference, we received a record 250 proposals through the SOCAP Open platform. After a round of public voting, and final review by our expert panel, 48 winning sessions were selected for presentation at SOCAP16.
This year we want to grow our network even wider. If you know someone with a great session idea in the areas of social innovation or impact investing, please tell them about SOCAP Open and encourage them to submit this year. If you have submitted in the past, please consider submitting a new idea this year. Good luck crafting your proposal. We are excited hear the ideas you want to bring to SOCAP17!