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The Mackinac Policy Conference is an important event where there are lots of people making business connections that drive the economy in our region. There are great speakers, fancy trappings, and lots of smiles and energy. It’s a curious event where you might meet the mayor of a nearby suburb riding a bike next to you on your way to breakfast at the Grand Hotel, or ham it up with a CEO of a large company over a beer at a social mixer.

Here are 5 things we thought might put the experience into better context to frame what what the Mackinac Policy Conference is really about.

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1. Though It’s Called The Mackinac “Policy” Conference, It’s Really More About Business

The Mackinac Policy Conference is the largest and most important event held by the Detroit Regional Chamber. The DRC is a business organization, and most of the attendees of the conference are members of the organization. There are also legislators, influencers, speakers, and other types who make the conference what it is – a chance for business people to get new ideas, push their business agendas forward, build relationships, and affect the policy that guides our region.

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2. The Sessions Are Really Just One Facet Of The Conference Where There’s A Lot More Going On

The conference can’t really be judged by looking at the keynote speakers and their topics. The sessions are designed to get attendees thinking on the same page about things that matter in the region, and facilitate the important conversations that can move our state forward. It’s those conversations where the magic happens.

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3. There Are More Opportunities To Make Connections Here In Three Days Than You Would Get The Rest Of The Year

What’s really unique about this opportunity is that it’s a chance for Detroit’s busy and successful business leaders to network with others who would be hard to track down otherwise. There are also loads of media opportunities that just aren’t possible watching the live stream – if you just watch the stream as a media outlet, you completely miss the essence of what’s going on. There are about 150 media attendees, and there are plenty of PR and communications reps around from various companies around to facilitate tons of interviews and good stories. Everybody is equipped to get the word out.

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4. It’s Not About Networking, It’s About Building Relationships – And There Is A Difference

You can come back from the conference with handfuls of business cards, but it won’t do you any good unless you’ve made some real connections. There’s plenty of paws to shake, but laying the foundation for one or a few solid relationships moving forward is more important.

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5. The Island Creates A Special Environment That You Couldn’t Easily Replicate Elswhere

The seclusion of the island, the clean air, picturesque scenery, and absence of cars create an environment where people can let their guard down a little bit. It’s practically the opposite of downtown Detroit. Normally, Mackinac is filled with vacationers. Having a laid back atmosphere for a business conference helps remove distractions and brings people together. Meetings naturally occur over the three day conference because you can’t help but bump into people multiple times. Facilitating the commerce that happens in our backyard is accelerated when you transport people elsewhere.