With so much information available to us online, it’s hard not to settle for an evening of sitting on the couch and taking in all that today’s news articles, blog posts, and social media statuses have to offer. Events are turning into webinars, you can receive minute-by-minute updates through Twitter, and business cards are turning into quick follows on Google+ or connections on Linkedin. Are events still worth it? I say, absolutely!
Why it’s worth the commute
Attending live events bring back the humanistic approach of connecting with people. While webinars are a great way to guide you through a set of presentation slides, an in-person event gives you the opportunity to stretch the conversation beyond the planned agenda and dive into what the audience really wants to hear. Your questions can shape the way the presentation is delivered.
The time before and after the main show is also a crucial and beneficial part. Beyond the food and beverage, it’s your chance to meet those people that are usually hidden behind a number on the webinar dashboard. They may turn out to be future business partners or employees and often times, you can even learn a thing or two from what they have to say.
The journey continues even as you leave. I love the feeling when I’ve just attended an educational and inspiring event that keeps my mind in brainstorming mode for my entire walk back home. I get so anxious to jot down my notes and relate what I’ve learned (from a variety of people and topics) to my work. I definitely don’t get that feeling from reading a string of tweet updates while I multi-task.
Acting on the love for events
Last night, Cloudbakers and 10th Magnitude hosted a Meetup event -- and this time we switched things up a bit. We brought both Google and Microsoft into the ring and gave our industry thought leaders some pretty tough guidelines to follow. We had six stations set up for our guests including:
Google Apps for Business
Google App Engine
Google Compute Engine
Microsoft Office 365
Our presenters had exactly 8 minutes to show what they were all about, and then “ding ding ding” we were on to the next round with a 2-minute exchange time. Needless to say, this event kept everyone on their toes wanting to learn more. To make it even more interactive, we gave each guest a scorecard to keep track of what factors from which presentations they liked best, and used those to do a final drawing for either a Google Nexus 7 or Microsoft Surface.
Unlike our previous Meetup events, we held the networking portion until the end. Was that smart? I’d say so. It allowed our guests more time for quality conversations based on what they initially came to learn. They were able to ask questions to the presenters and each other (while taking full advantage of the pizza and beer).
By far the best aspect of the evening was that it was FUN! People were up and constantly moving around, while still taking notes and soaking in knowledge. Events like these make us realize why it’s so important to still take the time to meet people face-to-face -- although Google Hangouts are always a close second.
Feel like attending an event? Hop into the Chicago Cloud Computing Meetup group and keep your eyes open for the next posting.
Originally published on February 28, 2014