Lobbycon (verb): To mingle in the lobby of a technology-conference venue, often without paying the conference fee, for the purpose of making professional connections. Lobbyconners don't crash sessions or parties, which would be illegal; instead, they simply loiter and shmooze in public areas.
A page-one story by Verne Kopytoff in the San Francisco Chronicle describes the phenomenon:
By most accounts, the fourth annual Web 2.0 Summit, a three-day Internet conference that features eBay CEO Meg Whitman and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, is the pinnacle of lobbycon. A combination of $3,595 invitations, a sold-out venue and A-list attendees always draws a big contingent of people who just want to work the hallways.
No doubt the Palace Hotel, where Web 2.0 is held, offers a cozy place to chat up venture capitalists with a few million dollars to invest, or advertisers with money to burn. Dealmakers, and those who want to be, stand elbow-to-elbow outside the Grand Ballroom in a hallway appointed with marble floors, crystal chandeliers and comfortable chairs.
Kopytoff writes that lobbycon "is inspired by the lingo of conference names, the titles of which sometimes end with 'con'."
Use of lobbycon dates back at least to mid-2004, when Metroblogging co-founder Sean Bonner wrote a post after attending the BlogOn conference in Berkeley:
I think the real value of these events is getting the right people together. Earlier this year at e-tech we were joking that there were two conferences going on, e-tech was upstairs and lobbycon was downstairs. ... So I'm proposing this - let's actually do it and see what happens. We'll pick a hotel in some city with a big lobby with wifi access and a date, and that's it. No panels, no time limits, no structure, no sponsors trying to push their products. Just the people and the lobby. We'll publish the list of attendees as soon as they sign up and that will be the conference.
More about the Web 2.0 Summit, which opens Oct. 17, here.