The programmers at Specialty Match Network are still building out the Web pages for EventMingle, a new online tool to connect attendees with exhibitors and each other, but President and CEO Jim Herrer is confident that his social networking product for the meeting industry will be ready for beta testers by Thanksgiving.

Herrer isn't new to the technology-launch countdown. The software industry veteran, whose background includes the founding and subsequent public offering and sale of Mustang Software, started Specialty Match in 2003 with a niche dating service called mycountry music.com. The company rolled out when online dating sites numbered only about 300, but with the field now saturated, he is looking for his next big thing.

EventMingle will join a small field of products — including introNetworks, CRG's Rio, and SmartEvent, marketed by ExpoExchange — that exist to take the randomness out of the networking that goes on at meetings. Attendees and exhibitors are asked to complete a profile. The profiles are the basis for a searchable database, which gives attendees a way to find the products and the services that they are looking for and provides exhibitors a way to more effectively reach buyers. In brief, exhibitors who opt into the system can schedule appointments or post press releases, job openings, and special giveaways. Users can search for people by title, interest, or other criteria, and they can make contacts through an internal e-mail system. EventMingle stays live well after the show has closed.

Rather than charging event producers for EventMingle, Herrer hopes to partner with them. If organizers provide lists of attendees, exhibitors, speakers, and sessions, he says, then EventMingle will market to the exhibitors, charging them for the ability to do pre-show e-mail marketing to targeted attendees.

Herrer is eager to speak with event managers who might want to get involved in the beta testing for EventMingle. For the initial round of tests, he is especially interested in events with about 2,000 attendees with approximately 50 booths. He can be reached at jherrar@specialtymatch.com.