If you have been a tech event organizer before, what sorts of challenges have you faced as an organizer, and if you haven’t organized before but want to, what challenges do you think you might be facing?
#AQChat 1: Event organizing - Q1: What sorts of challenges have you faced, or think you might face, as an event organizer?
I’ve encountered a few challenges. Two that stick out are:
Finding a venue – For this, I’ve simply used my social network and other human resources/assets. I’ve asked individual people, make public requests on twitter or slack, and I checked where other meetups were being held.
I’ve also found that some companies are happy to host meetups because it provides free advertising and access to potential employees.
I’m still working on this part but I feel like I’m homing in on a good regular venue.
Balancing control vs delegating responsibility – For a meetup to scale you need help. It is difficult to find someone who is as passionate as you (the organizer) so assistants may come and go. Personally I also tend to want to do and control everything. This isn’t something I’ve figured out yet.
hm, this is a good question. I think the biggest thing for me is knowing where to start. Both learning how to find/create events or projects within communities and knowing what to do once I’m there. I’ve learned to approach this first with “what can I personally contribute that’s draws on my strengths/interests but isn’t necessarily as easy for the folks around me” and go from there - which is usually getting a big picture of what needs to happen and then breaking it down into smaller tasks. While I’m sure there are other good approaches out there, it helps me know where to ask for help and find places to bring others in.
Like I said in the introduce yourself thread, in both Boston Go and GDCFP, I fell into the cockpit and learned how to organize as I went.
For GDCFP, one of the challenges was finding teammates; in December I almost pulled the event because I couldn’t find a co-organizer, but at the last minute @acnagy, and soon after Edide Kay, joined the organizing team, and we were organizing at turbo speed, building a schedule from the site’s template, building the signup form, finding mentors, gathering resources for an intro packet, and running the event.
For Boston Go, a challenge we’d been working on tackling lately was getting new speakers. We have a lot of frequent speakers at BG who are well-known in the Go community, so the organizing team has offered to help speakers prepare and practice their slides. Also to sweeten the deal, we’re now also giving out Ashley McNamara Mic Drop Gopher stickers to anyone speaking for the first time.
In both, a big challenge I had as an organizer was getting people outside my own social circle (namely, people on Twitter) involved. In particular, 6 of the 10 mentors at GDCFP Boston were from the Go community since that’s who I interact most with, but Anna is a support engineer, and one attendee came as an academic speaker, so for GDCFP 2019 I want to have more mentors who are coming from more kinds of tech communities so we can help speakers on more topics
I totally hear you on those! And reaching out to similar/central communities is a really great wat to get these events off the ground. Finding a venue was a big challenge for BG when we lost Akamai, but Jen Andre did a great job finding leads until The Goog stepped in. Tweeting out for a new space, gophers, including Francesc, also stepped up.
And yeah, delegating responsibility is definitely an important challenge. I like using Trello for that so people can take tasks, though for GDCFP the roles kind of just formed between the organizing team; Anna became emcee on the day of the event and crushed it and Eddie did an excellent job with recruiting more mentors!
Boston GCDFP day was one of those awesome events like just came together so well - it was such a great day. I was watching the twitter discussion/saw your post about it and sort of went “well, why not me”, and I’m so glad I replied to that twitter discussion and we all made it happen for everyone! Such a great example to me for why it’s good to just jump in.
Well put! Also a good strategy with contributing to OSS
By the way, question 2 is now up!
I think the biggest challenges are 1. resources, and 2. getting attendees. Both can be helped significantly by 1. clearly defining what kind of outcome you want out of the event and 2. asking for help.
If you know what kind of outcome you want of the event, you can then find different groups who share the same interest as you. It helps significantly if you are a part of different groups - don’t think that the purpose of the groups have to be immediately related to each other.
People like to help. The key to getting them to help you is making your requests clear and reasonable. Need a room? Ask if you can use their room. Etc. The added bonus of getting people to help is that you now have more people involved in the event, which I think makes it more fun to plan and organize.
In the end, events are about bringing people together. Focus on a purpose for the event and building connections between existing groups. If you don’t have any, then think about how you can explore different groups that share the same interest as you!
Getting multiple groups involved is huge, and I think the move bringing in CareerDevs was really well-placed for that so it’s a lot of people coming from outside Go Twitter. I found the same thing happened with my co-organizers for GDCFP; Eddie recruited non-Go mentors, and when @acnagy tweeted about finding resources for public speakers, it gave a huge boost to the resources on the intro packet.