Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The #failboat Speaker Series

Early this year I was approached by a connection on Twitter, Chris Chang, to sit down for coffee and chat about what it takes to make an event happen. I've been part of lots of events, having been on the committee that puts on a public convention every year for about 8 years, and having started my own monthly meetup. I was glad to offer some tips.

However, as our conversation progressed I became very interested in the idea Chris was presenting. After having answered all the questions he had and given all the information I could think of at the starting stages, I agreed to be a part of the steering committee, helping to make this idea happen.

So now I present the #failboat Speaker Series.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently - Henry Ford

The series will bring in 5 speakers to talk about their experiences of failure, the bigger the better, and how it has changed their lives for the better. Each event will run two months apart starting in April.

We are currently looking for more people to join our team and help make this series of events happen. Are you interested?
all aboard the failboat

Monday, October 15, 2012

Connect with Your City

This morning I saw this photo posted on Facebook.

A little backstory, a local business person started a scavenger hunt in town a few weeks ago, the Royal City Coffee Hunt. Find the photo, take it to The Joint Cafe and redeem for a free coffee.

This morning's location was one I know quite well, even though I haven't spent time there since I was in secondary school. In fact, as I drove over there I was surprised to find the street I thought lead right to the spot actually stopped before it.

From the ages of 8 until 11 I lived on Peter Ave, and attended Waverley Drive School. Even after moving away from the area in grade five I continued at the same school for 3 more years.

This was my neighbourhood, I knew it well. Especially since I walked to school everyday, sometimes with different friends so we changed routes regularly.

So, I bundled up and headed out to get the photo since I wanted a coffee, and a treat. As I drove over the memories started, as they often do any time I drive through that neighbourhood. I always look down Peter Ave, to spy my old house. As I drove further down Delhi I thought about how far of a walk it must have seemed to me at 9 years old every day. I feel like kids don't walk so far on their own any more.  My parents stopped walking me to school sometime about grade one, or 6 years old. From then on I was on my own.

I recognized that spot in the photo, so completely because it is directly across from the intersection where I used to be a safety patrol, Waverley and Clive.

As I looked up and down the street I was overcome with a memory of walking down to Riverside Drive to watch the Olympic Torch go by in 1988. My and my friends walked the entire way from the school to the end of the street singing "Stand By Me" over and over again. Because of my enormous crushes on River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton that movie was on constantly.

I have lived in Guelph since I was 3 years old. And I mean lived! Not only did we move at least 7 or 8 times before I was 13 years old (thanks to my nomadic father), I went to at least 4 different schools and made new and different friends each time. My brother and I were active kids, always exploring neighbourhoods, some quite far from our home. As long as we could hear my mom's whistle we knew we were within range of home, and she has a loud whistle!

There are very few parts of this city that don't have memories attached for me, and there are very few "Guelph" experiences I haven't had. Guelph is very much more than the city I live in. It has shaped me and made me the person I am. To get really philosophical, Guelph is me and I am Guelph :-)

I've been lucky to live in the same city for so long, but anybody can start making memories and experiencing our city. Go out for walks. Today walk left out your door instead of right. Drive to the library branch at the opposite end of the city from your home, join a book club there. Shop in a different grocery store, or visit some schools public events, like fairs and performances.

Go to local events like Festival Italiano, the Multicultural Festival and Hillside Festival. Ask long time Guelphites to share stories of what the city was like before you arrived. I can tell you where streets stopped 15 or 20 years ago, and what it was like lining up for movies at the Odeon on Wyndham St.

Thanks to Rob Campbell for adding a quick and easy way to get to know Guelph every Monday. Take part. Watch for next week's photo and go looking for it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Host a Busy Event with the help of Social Media

This article was originally published in The Defacto Group's Quarterly Newsletter.

Fall and spring are popular times for yearly conferences. You might be looking at an event slated for November and worrying about the ticket sales, or just starting to plan something for April and want to ensure its success. Either way, here are some suggestions for getting buzz around your big event, hopefully picking up more ticket sales, and attracting bigger and better speakers for you next one.

John Morgan captures the audience at the B2Conf

The Basics

Set up a Facebook page for the host organization as well as a Facebook event.

Set up a Twitter account with an exciting and interesting description of the event in the bio and a link to your web page or registration page.

Make sure your venue is listed on FourSquare, or add it.

Consider setting up an event in LinkedIn, especially if it is a business related event and you see a large community of your targeted audience there.

The Meat of it

So you have all your accounts set up, you've been sending out posts with links to your registration everyday but you have only 15 likes on Facebook, one person has RSVP’d to your event and it was mom, and all of your Twitter followers are named SydneySmyth706 and ask you daily if you've seen this funny photo of you on the internet.

You need to put out compelling, interesting stories to make anybody care about your big conference. You need to stop sending out the equivalent of 10 second radio ads, without even the great radio voice. You need to be a caring person reacting to the everyday happenings of your community.

You community is made up of your attendees, your speakers, your sponsors, your venue, you local business and social clubs, you local media. These are the people you should be following on Twitter, and liking on Facebook. Then talk to them!

Help your venue promote their other events, RT their tweets and share their Facebook posts. If your speaker sends out a tweet about a great or bad experience in a coffee shop that morning, celebrate or commiserate with them. When your local media posts a good news story about your local economy let them know you read it and it makes you proud to be hosting your event in that city.

Social media is the place for conversation and reciprocity; it’s not the place for advertising.

The Payoff

After you've built your network of friends, fans and followers through chatting with them, then it becomes easy for them to buy from you, easy to promote you, and easy to come again.

Choose a hashtag so that your Twitter followers (hashtags also work on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+) can find join the conversation about your event, and connect with other people attending. Promote it everywhere, online and offline.

Post visual content. Information is abundant on the internet, help people out by making it easy for them. Post a photo instead.

Tell stories about your sponsors and speakers. Were they on the local news, or better yet Oprah? Share a video.

Include a link to your main page or registration page as much as possible.

Don’t be afraid to ask people specifically if they are coming to your event, as long as you've had some sort of interaction with them where you've showed them you care about them.

Remember that promoting your event should start as soon as you begin planning. Involve people right from the beginning and they will help you succeed and maybe even join the planning committee for next year’s event!

The crowd gathers early in Market Square for Fourth Friday