How to start a Port80 chapterPosted March 30th, 2007 in Industry, Web Technology
Port80 is always looking to start monthly meetings in other parts of this world of ours. Are you keen as well? Read on…
Being involved in a port80 chapter is great! But donâ€™t just take my word for it, check out the online forums and the events happening every month in capital cities around Australia.
So, youâ€™re thinking that it would be great to have a monthly port80 event in your neck of the woods? I would encourage you to spend a few hours getting one up and running – it costs very little or nothing to do and itâ€™s incredibly easy to get started.
Planning a Port80 chapter can be broken down to four easy steps; plan, invite, launch and maintain.
Email us and let us know your intentions and ask to be put on the state organisers email mailing list. that way, we can support you as youâ€™re getting up and running.
Find others to help! If you can, coax a co-worker or friend in the industry to help you here – itâ€™s far easier with two heads and sets of hands.
If you can get a few involved, create an email mailing list or Google group to discuss organisation – itâ€™s far easier to organise than real life meetings, and creates a good manual for the future to read through archives.
First, check to see when every other user group or regular meeting in your city of is on. we donâ€™t want to clash with anything else, if possible. I suggest that Monday nights arenâ€™t good because people have just got into the work week, and Fridays are no good because itâ€™s the weekend. Tuesday to Thursdays are the best nights generally.
We meet at nights, typically kicking off straight after work. That way, people donâ€™t go home first and decide not to go back out, and everyone can attend. We also typically hold the events on the same night every month, which makes it easy to remember. We meet here in Perth on the first Wednesday of each month, however you could have it on third Thursdays, second Tuesdays, whatever works best.
Once youâ€™ve set a date, then narrow down venue choices. We find that a licensed venue allows people to buy drinks at the bar, and perhaps snacks, and mingle with everyone.
The ideal venue is near where most of your intended visitors work and also near parking. We typically suggest the CBD or nearby suburbs, where the parking tends to be better.
Ideally, you would have an area reserved for the meet, however if you know the venue would be quiet on the night youâ€™ve chosen, perhaps youâ€™re safe just getting there early and grabbing some tables.
You may want to visit a few venues and check them out – ask if you are able to reserve some space for free – many places are happy to do this for you, especially if itâ€™s on a quieter night of the week.
Consider sponsors. The founding spirit of port80 is that we are totally non commercial and free of sales pitches, however you may consider letting others pay for venue or snacks and drinks. The good thing about port80 events is that you donâ€™t need much money; what you need is enough to just pay for venue hire (if absolutely neccessary) and some platters of food.
Three to four weeks lead time is ideal for announcing the first meeting – itâ€™s long enough to spread the word around, and make sure peoples diaries arenâ€™t yet full, but not so long that people forget.
Write up an email which clearly states the venue (with link to a map), date and time of the event, as well as some background (adding a link to the port80 website helps) and also suggest that the recipient forwards this email to others they may know. Send this email to all your contacts who are related to the web industry. DONâ€™T SPAM!
Post it on your blog (if you have one) and on any relevant mailing lists which you are a member of (only if the list rules say this is OK).
Post your event on sites such as www.upcoming.org.
Start a thread on the port80 forums, and promote the event there. Ask people to join the thread, so you get an idea of who will be coming.
Let any local or online industry media know about what youâ€™re putting together, and ask them to help promote it.
Search for other web-related events or organisations in your city, and ask their organisers to help spread the word (offer to do the same in turn – collaborate donâ€™t compete!).
Contact all the local bloggers you know, and offer them gratitude or bribes to post details about your event.
If a group of people are announcing it on their blogs, its clever to post at different times and days, rather than all on the same day – this keeps the news out there longer.
If you have access to a fax machine or a stack of envelopes and stamps, search the Yellow Pages and Google for all web companies who may be interested and nearby, and get in touch – itâ€™s a nice touch in this world of email, to send a one page fax or letter, and itâ€™s obviously far better than spamming.
Ask these companies to circulate it to their staff, or pin the page up on any notice board – most companies encourage staff to get involved in their industry.
Send out reminder emails 3-5 days before the event and also the day before the event.
If youâ€™ve got a sponsor, order some snacks – if not, consider buying a platter or two and asking people to pitch in and donate towards costs.
Call the venue the day before, place any food orders (if required) and just ensure they remember youâ€™re coming.
On the day, get to the venue early. Scope out a good spot, or make sure the staff know if you have reserved some space or a room.
Let the staff know what youâ€™re there for, and ask them kindly to send any web geeks who are lost over to you.
If possible, print some A4 posters up and tape them to the walls to direct people to the right spot. If not, perhaps approach those who look like they are looking for someone.
Make sure you welcome people as they arrive, and ask others to circulate and introduce themselves – if the meet looks like a cliquey in-crowd, youâ€™ll never get newcomers join.
Thank everyone for attending. ask them to email you their details, or for a business card and let them know youâ€™ll email them about future events. Understand if they donâ€™t want to give you their details – thatâ€™s fine too.
If you can, give a quick 2 minute speech – it doesnâ€™t need to be long, just thank everyone again for attending, thank the venue and any sponsors or helpers. Mention that youâ€™ll be meeting every month on the same night, and that you expect to be at the same venue. Encourage people to come up and ask you about port80.
Remember: this is supposed to be fun. Keep it that way.
Itâ€™s very important after the first event to send an email to anyone who you know attended, and send them a quick thanks – it guarantees they know you liked their attendance, and thereâ€™s a good chance theyâ€™ll be back.
Add all of the attendees who agreed to being added to an email mailing list, into a list so you can notify them prior to the next event.
If there were any sponsors or helpers, ensure you call them and thank them for their money, efforts or contributions – itâ€™s a great thing to have others involved.
Ask everyone for feedback – the group won’t flourish unless you listen to participants, and at the end of the day you hope that it becomes a self perpetuating event, and your organisational time can be reduced over the next few months.
Ask if other attendees are interested in helping organise future events.
Get straight onto organising the next event – soon it becomes instinctive and before you know it, the events will run themselves!
Photo: Perth from Kings Park.