Trinette Cunningham wants you! And if she already has you, she wants to keep you. Cunningham is the executive director for a niche events industry association called the Computer Event Marketing Association. We sat down together recently to talk shop and have some lunch (our offices are just a couple of towns apart in Massachusetts). As conversations are likely to do these days, our talk turned to the plunging Nasdaq and tech-company cutbacks. While Cunningham could easily rattle off a few firms that are likely to scale back their participation in CEMA's annual meeting this summer because of travel and spending restrictions, what struck me was her confidence in CEMA's future growth.

Her confidence comes from a conviction that I share: that corporate events are critical to the overall health of a company's corporate marketing efforts, and that tech events marketers — pushed to be both cutting edge and fiscally responsible — are eager for education and networking opportunities.

Over lunch, Cunningham shared a preview of the 2001 CEMA Summit program. While four of the 26 sessions planned are strictly for exhibit managers, in general, I was amazed at the similarity of what we're trying to accomplish. Of course, CEMA delivers sessions while TM delivers articles, but many of the CEMA workshops sounded like content that you might find in our pages. Here's a sample: “Creating the Right Brand for Your Private Event,” “New Millennium Convention Centers: What Does High-Tech Really Mean?” “Online Tools to Measure Your Program ROI,” “Lessons from the Road” (a case study of Lucent Technologies World Tour), and “New Media Communication Tools for Marketing.” For more, see the CEMA Network newsletter on page 22.

The 10-year-old CEMA has 300 tech company event manager members (plus another 300 suppliers who are “industry associate” members), and Cunningham has plans to make that figure grow by 30 percent over the next couple of years. If you want to be a part of it, visit www.cemaonline.com.