building a community the right way.
A thread on running a tech community, from my learnings as a volunteer and then organizer over the last 8 years. I put down some tips, insights and takeaways from my time with GDG Mumbai and GDG MAD, before and after we joined the GDG program. Some might not hold true for all demographics, and some might be subjective, but should be still helpful. Other suggestions and feedback welcome!😀
Type of talks
There’s a ton of docs, blogs, courses, SO posts, and videos out there for people to learn “what” or “why.” Talks that are storied tend to be more engaging and insightful than talks that are instructional.
Aim of talks
There’s truth to the “give a fish / teach how to fish” story. Rather than instruct attendees and viewers, aim to inspire them. “How we solved for user retention using Remote Config” is infinitely better than “How to do A/B testing using Remote Config.”
Impact of events
Don’t measure success by number of attendees or views. @iRomin’s pinned tweet sums it up nicely, if you inspire even one person, they can change the world. @sreeraman started GBG Mumbai with 6 people showing up, now they’re a community of over 5000 strong.
Understand your audience and deliver catered experiences. Don’t pick a talk only because the topic sounds good or the speaker has 1000 followers. Also, think outside the comfort zone - why aren’t you attracting a certain type of audience? What can you change?
More events does not mean more attendees or larger turnouts. However you paint it, your community is about work, and people need time away from work. At @gdgmad, monthly Saturday events worked best, especially considering many people worked two Saturdays.
If you so happen to be in a city that’s largely bilingual, don’t restrict yourself to only English. A lot of speakers and attendees are more comfortable in their native languages. We’ve had quite a few talks in Hindi, and all have been extremely well met.
Don’t look for only established speakers. Everyone needs their break, and a first time speaker can surprise you. Provide mentorship, and feedback instead of turning them down. @krunal3kapadiya gave his first talk at MAD, and blew us away with the quality. 🙌
Organizers as speakers
An excellent speaker might not be a good organizer, and a great organizer might not be your keynote speaker. Not everyone has the same skillset and that’s perfectly okay. Of course there’s some people like @karntrehan who knock both out of the park.
People don’t only come to your events for the talks. Not providing time, space and context for socializing and meeting like-minded people is unwise. At @androidww_ we had so much sucess with dedicated social time that we’re actually increasing it going foward.
Don’t be afraid to ask. At worst, you’ll get a polite no. Make a well rounded pitch, tell them what’s in it for them and highlight takeaways. Not all sponsorships have to be money. We’ve done solid partnerships with @haptik every year solely for cross promotion.
People don’t follow your page just for another event notification channel. Your meetup platform and mailing list are doing that. Share content, quips, local spotlight stories and more, for high engagement. Shoutout to @swpnlbrkr for proving this to me.
Code of conduct 📃
Don’t make it an afterthought. Super important to have this in place, accompanied with an email or ideally, a phone number people can reach out to. Optionally, make anonymous reporting possible. Good source for this is ConfCodeofConduct
The event ended on a happy note, now what? Harness the momentum - stagger things like feedback form, photos, and recordings to be sent out in the following week. Factor in that you’re going to be tired and preschedule as much as you can. Going silent isn’t ideal.
Have any other insights, tips or ideas?
Shoot a reply, no matter how tiny or whack it may sound. @gdgmad specializes in breaking the norm.