Why You Should be Running in Person events


By Dan Taylor

Back in 2010 I was trying to work out my next move. I was helping set up and support a couple of schools with Google Apps and trying to work out how I could expand this. I didn’t have an office then and was working remotely out of cafes and co-working spaces. I spotted a Facebook connection who had set up a meet up for similar remote workers in Prague, where I live, so I emailed him and asked if I could get involved in the event. In the end around 12 people joined us in a cafe in Dejvice, a leafy suburb of Prague, for an afternoon meet up, and a few designated people gave a quick talk about projects they were working on.

I gave a talk about the ‘Google in schools’ topic I was working on. After my session one of the attendees came across and we talked about our shared interest in all thing Google. He was a developer and that meeting led to us working together to develop a software product for schools called ‘CourseDirector’ which ended up being used by institutions worldwide including Rutgers University and Eton College.

Fast forward one year and I was now working full time with Google tools and keen to learn more. I discovered a Google for Education conference in Northern California and was about to register as an attendee when I thought “Why don’t I contact them and see if they need any help with the event”. My thoughts were that it would be a great way to meet the organizers and speakers, plus interact with more attendees. They replied and said “Fantastic you can help on the registration desk”. I accepted and had an amazing time.

I got back to Europe and learned there hadn’t yet been any such conference in the whole of Europe. I tracked down a contact at Google and proposed that I would organise one. They agreed and we held the first European ‘Google for Education Summit’ at the International School of Prague together with my friend John Mikton. We had 150 attendees turn up from across Europe and an amazing time. That event led to the start of AppsEvents and since that day in 2011 I have been continuously helping organize events of every type and size quite literally across the globe.

What being involved in the these events showed me is the huge power of ‘in person events’, and that even in this increasingly online world there is no replacement for face to face interaction. More than that though it showed me that by being the person running the event it multiplies the benefits you get from attending.

It doesn’t matter if it’s meetups, training sessions or conferences. Here’s why I think YOU should be involved in running events:

It’s the best way to meet new people

When you go to a conference you talk to a lot of people and sometimes it’s easy to lose track of everyone you meet. The beauty of being the person talking from the stage, or the person they interact with at registration is that people will generally remember you. If you put yourself in the attendees shoes they only know you as the event organizer, so they associate you with the topic of your event.

I believe running live events is the number one way to build your network....and not just build your network but ‘turbo-charge’ it. As the event organizer people will be talking to you all the time, and especially for people who are a bit introverted it's an ideal way to help you get out of your comfort zone.

The friendships that can come through this cannot be underestimated. I have good friends in places I never would have expected such as Taiwan, Thailand and the Middle East amongst others that started directly from me running events that they attended.

You learn much more about the topic when you run an event relating to it

I’m a strong believer that the best way to learn more about a topic is to teach it, and this applies to events in that by running an event you will learn from other presenters and expand your knowledge.

The reality is that by running an event not only do people perceive you as a subject matter expert in your field, but that you genuinely become more of an expert in the field by running the event!

If your an entrepreneurial type then events can lead to you selling your product or service, although there is a big ‘BUT’. What I mean by this is that you can use your event to build relationships with people who COULD become customers in the future. What you should never do it use your events as a ‘pitch-fest’…. Your event should be 100% focused on maximum knowledge transfer to the attendees.

Just to say in closing that ‘running events’ does not have to mean you are the one to dream up the concept and plan the event alone. You can get involved with a team for an existing event, and you would be amazed just how keen event organizers are to get volunteers on to their team. Just try it!

I hope this article inspires some readers to go our and run some events. Please let me know your experiences in the comments below. One final tip to leave you with….I mentioned it above but I want to come back to it:

Helping run the registration desk is the best way to get started with events. 

Firstly the main organizer will be super grateful to have someone do this (It’s an important job and they want someone keen, detail focussed and high energy on it) and secondly you get to meet every attendee! You’ll speak with attendees both during the registration process and later when they come back to ask questions.