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The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Tag: events

6 Tips To Create A Killer Networking Group

Dave Delaney

Create Your Networking Group

One of the best ways to grow your professional network is to host your own networking group. A few months after moving to Nashville, I created Geek Breakfast as a way to keep our growing technology community together. Five years ago, I launched Nashcocktail, to connect local social media professionals. You can create a group too, if you follow these five simple steps.

1. Begin with your goals. What do you hope to gain from creating a networking group?

My intention with the groups I created was to connect people and build community. I could measure this by reviewing membership and attendee numbers each month to be sure we were growing.

2. Find an available or underserved niche.

Do a simple Google search to find events in your city related to your niche. Don’t be discouraged if you find groups already exist. You should attend the events to understand how they are run. Ask yourself how your group would be different.

You may also discover a dormant group. Reach out to the organizer and ask if you can take it over. That’s what Jeff Dolan did with the Nashville Filmmakers group. Jeff explains how he did it in my interview below, plug in your headphones and enjoy.

3. Connect with and invite local leaders in the your niche.

I’m a big fan of the FollowerWonk tool. You can use this to search Twitter bios in a specific location. For example, you can search “author” and “Nashville” and find anyone on Twitter around the city, who include author in their bio. FollowerWonk will show you who are the most influential based on the number of followers they have and tweets they create.

Use LinkedIn to search for companies who provide products or services related to your niche. For example, if you are creating a networking group for the travel industry, search for travel agents, hotels, and airlines on LinkedIn. Find the people who work for the companies and reach out to invite them to your group. Once you determine the names of the companies you can also see if you have friends who work there using a simple Facebook search.

4. Use a service like MeetUp, Facebook Events, or Eventbrite to create your invitation.

MeetUp.com is a good site to create a group around a reoccurring event. Facebook Events should be used in conjunction with your Facebook Page to organize events. Eventbrite is an alternative to TicketMaster for event organizers to create tickets.

5. Reach out to everyone you know to announce the event.

Use social media, email, and pick up the phone. You want to promote the heck out of your group to get a good turnout. The first event is important because you want group members to return next time.

You may choose to pay to promote your group’s event on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I can help you with this if you need to better understand how to affordably advertise on these platforms.

6. Poll your attendees before the event to learn more about their specific needs, so you can better serve them.

Use SurveyMonkey to create a short, simple survey. Send it to your members to ask them what they hope to gain from attending your event and being a member of your group.

Sending an occasional survey to members can also help you get the pulse of your group to ensure everyone is enjoying their membership.

Creating and running your own networking group isn't difficult. However, it takes time to grow and nurture your group. Be patient and listen to your members, they will ultimately determine if your group is a success.

If you have questions about organizing your own group and events, reach out to me with a comment below or on Twitter @davedelaney.

7 Tips for Event Organizers and Attendees

Dave Delaney

Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing SquidIf you spend any time on social media, it was hard to miss technology news coming from Austin, TX recently. The annual, South by Southwest Festival was in full swing. SXSW is actually three festivals under one umbrella, music, film, and interactive. It was at the largest of the three, Interactive, where companies like Foursquare and Twitter got their humble beginnings. South by Southwest Interactive is run by Hugh Forrest. I recently interviewed Hugh on my podcast. You can hear our discussion and read the show notes here. He shared his wisdom on organizing and attending events, which inspired this post.

Whether the event draws a handful of people or thirty-thousand like SXSW Interactive, there are key things you need to know to make your experience a success.

7 tips for event organizers and attendees

1. Start with passion. Find out what attendees are seeking in an event. Hugh explained, "The more you can engage and work with the community, and reflect the passion, interest, and energy of the community, the stronger the event will become." If you are attending an event, find ones that are related to what you are most passionate about.

2. Size doesn't matter. The important thing is whether attendees find value in your event. Hugh pointed out that slow growth is good growth. Let your event grow organically.

3. Break out of your group. If you are attending or hosting an event, try to meet new people. It's easy to stay with the people you know, but you will get the most return by breaking out of the group and introducing yourself to new people.

4. Attend the unknown. Go to events you know little about. This will broaden your mind. You will come away with new contacts who you wouldn't typically meet elsewhere. Attending the unknown may inspire ideas for your own event.

5. Follow up. The second most important part of networking is the follow up. The first is getting out there and meeting people. Send the people you met an email, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, or offer to buy them a coffee or lunch. Find a way you can bring value to your new contact. Perhaps you can provide them with an important introduction to someone in your network.

6. Don't reinvent the wheel. In episode two of New Business Networking Radio, I interview Jeff Dolan, who runs the Nashville Filmmakers meet up group. Jeff explained that he took over the group, which was dormant. If you are interested in starting your own event, begin with a Google search to see what already exists. It may be easier than you think.

7. Embrace Serendipity. Hugh Forrest left my listeners with a line that I love, "Surrender to serendipity". This was in reference to the chaotic crowds in Austin during SXSW, but can be just as relevant in every event we attend or organize. Go with the flow and trust your gut.

When you are finished reading this post, do a quick search for events in your area. Use Google, and check services like Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com to see what's coming up. In Nashville? Check out the Wannado app.

Don't be shy, click that RSVP button and add it to your calendar. Who knows, maybe I'll see you there.

Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

This article, “How to get the most out of business events“, originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

Meet Your Friends Offline

Dave Delaney

Photo by Nicola CorboyThe Internet is a powerful place. We meet like-minded people from all across this wonderful world. We socialize with our new friends via an array of different social networking sites, and these relationships grow stronger as we invest time in them.

This is a magical experience to me, and one that becomes even better when I meet my online friends offline, “in real life”.

In my book, New Business Networking, I write about some of my personal experiences with meeting online friends in person and what transpired. There is something special about that moment when you reach out and shake their hand, give them a high-five, or even better, a hug.

I have often met many of my online friends in person at conferences like South by Southwest or Consumer Electronics Show, but not everybody has a budget for attending such events. This shouldn’t stop you though.

The truth is, you are probably conversing online with many people who reside in your city. Our hometowns provide countless topics for discussion and debate, so it is only natural that you meet other locals. Can you find a way to invite these people to meet in person? Forget what your parents said; you must talk to strangers.

Why not organize a tweet up with your Twitter friends (and their friends)? Use Meetup.com to create a casual meet up with your online pals. Facebook has Events. You get the idea.

Here is Your Homework

Do a little digging for local events worth attending to meet the people you converse with online. If an event doesn’t exist, plan one and invite them. Don’t charge a fee to attend, and include a cash bar. It’s dead simple to do this. I created Geek Breakfast, which now has chapters across the US, Australia, South Africa, and in Canada on this very model. You can do this too.

We meet people in person to build stronger relationships, which may lead to business opportunities down the road. Not only can these lead to more such opportunities, but they can also result in new friendships.

Leave a comment with the event you are planning (or planning to attend) and the city you reside in. Who knows, maybe fellow Owner readers from your town will see this and connect with you in person too.

Do it. You will be glad you did.

Photo by Nicola Corboy


This post originally appeared in Owner Magazine.

How to Plan Local Events

Dave Delaney

Photo by Drew MaughanSeveral years ago during BarCamp Nashville, a large, technology unconference, an issue came up about the many technology events taking place in the city. The community was growing quickly, and it seemed like a new meet up was occurring daily. It was becoming difficult to keep up. Not having a listing of all events was problematic for attendees, because there was no way to see everything in one place. It was easy to miss an event simply by not knowing it existed or when it was scheduled for.

Another issue was for the organizers. These folks (myself included) were unknowingly scheduling events that conflicted with other similar events. It was a mess.

A Simple Solution 

The solution was a simple one, and it’s still used today.

The Nashville Technology Calendar, powered by a simple Google Calendar.

Event organizers are encouraged to contribute to the calendar by adding their events. This gives everyone a simple way to see everything taking place in the coming days, weeks and months. Like Apple’s iCal, a Google Calendar can be subscribed to, making it easy to keep track of what’s coming up.

New solutions to keep track of local events have come up since the calendar’s inception in 2009. The slick WannaDo app, which I expect will expand beyond Nashville in the coming months is a great example of this. It’s an app that you can add events to and socially share the ones you plan to attend.

A simple Google Calendar can help you keep track of what’s happening in your city. I even use one to keep track of my life.

How do you keep track of the events in your city? Are you an organizer? How do you avoid conflicting with other events? Leave a comment. I would love to hear what you have come up with too.

Photo by Drew Maughan


This post originally appeared in Owner Magazine.

42 Productivity Tips and Apps from PodCamp Nashville

Dave Delaney

Photo by: Emily SandfordI had the good fortune of opening PodCamp Nashville today with a session entitled, Naked Productivity. I'll show you mine if you show me yoursHere is how I described the session on the PodCamp Nashville site.

A roundtable discussion for all attendees to show and tell their best productivity tips, apps, techniques, hacks, and tools.

We all get overwhelmed staying on task each day. I should be doing three other things as I write this description. Naked Productivity will be an easy way for all attendees to contribute to the session.

This isn't a canned presentation. It's an opportunity for all of us to share the best ways we stay productive. Attendees will come away with a head full of new ideas to improving the way we focus on the daily To Do's and life hacks.

The purpose of the session was for all of us to learn from one another. The session was a huge success thanks to the amazing people who attended. As I mentioned afterward, it would have sucked if I had an empty room, or worse, a dead crowd. If you were present thank you for being there.

42 Productivity Tips and Apps from PodCamp Nashville

I encouraged friends on Twitter to also chime in with their favorite productivity apps and tips using the hashtag #PCN13Naked. You can see all of the tweets at the end of this post.

The following is a list of items mentioned during the presentation. Here are 42 productivity tips and apps to help you gain control of your life:

  1. Create a work week and a physical environment where your kids understand that you are working.
  2. To Do Lists: Writing a physical list and the satisfaction of striking items off of it.
  3. Write your list the night before.
  4. Break each item down into smaller chunks.
  5. Clear - Realmac Software
  6. Asana for project management
  7. Trello for project management, because it has a better overall dashboard
  8. Evernote
  9. Sabina Nawaz’s This Space Intentionally Left White
  10. Use driving time to drive in silence and record audio notes to yourself.
  11. Reqall is a To Do list app that you can phone. Transcriptions come from your messages.
  12. Soundcloud. You can record and leave yourself private messages.
  13. Bernie Goldbach's battle with attention crash.
  14. Use a $5.00 glass screen window on your office wall as a whiteboard.
  15. Use colors to indicate what's what. Green = money. Red = urgent.
  16. Use your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker
  17. Producteeve ties into your email. You can email yourself to do list items.
  18. Wunderlist for lists
  19. Alfred app will interface with other applications and pass data from them.
  20. Fantastical - you can speak your calendar events and it will add them. It syncs with iOS calendar as well
  21. Boomerang for Gmail to push old messages back to the top of your inbox later.
  22. ActionMethod for creative thinkers.
  23. Michael Hyatt's "My Ideal Day" spreadsheet
  24. Use a week long spreadsheet with numbers of tasks to do each. Keep a tally.
  25. Pinterest: download daily tasks sheet.
  26. Drink lots of water!
  27. Howler countdown timer (Mac)
  28. Use iPhone timer
  29. Pomodorro Technique (mentioned in three sessions during PodCamp)
  30. Chronos time tracking app. http://www.getchronos.com/
  31. Sunrise app works with Google Calendar and hooks you into Facebook and G+
  32. Paper calendars work too!
  33. iCal with multiple calendars. 1 calendar dedicated to different tasks. Use the calendars to log your work to track and search later.
  34. Freshbooks for invoicing
  35. Track your time you do for each job using Office Time software.
  36. Billings Touch app for invoicing and tracking your work
  37. Don't forget about your life goals.
  38. What good tools (Apollo) are one-in-all solution?
  39. RescueTime tracks time spend on your computer by what software or social networking you are using.
  40. Zapier plugs into service APIs. It's like Alfred.
  41. Follow up with people you meet. Record audio notes from your meetings.
  42. CardMunch app for scanning cards with LinkedIn.

Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite productivity tips and apps please. Thanks again to the volunteers, organizers, sponsors, and attendees or PodCamp Nashville. Today was a HUGE success!

Photo by Emily Sandford.

Engage First. Sell Later.

Dave Delaney

Guest post by John Quayle, marketing and graphic design professional that lives and works in the greater Pittsburgh area. Photo from Flickr by: Nicola CorboyAdmit it. During some point in our lives, we've all been there.

We've all been the nervous wreck found in the corner at a networking event trying to go over our talking points for the social gathering. The more we tend to go over our notes and map out the route we'll take to talk to a few targeted attendees, the more we believe that we can turn casual conversations into life long business relationships.

When the moment of truth arrives and we begin to initiate conversations, something horribly goes wrong. Those neatly organized points and our rehearsed routine mysteriously disappear. Instead, we end up giving an opening line to someone sounds a little bit like:

"HiMyNameIsJohn. DoYouKnowThatISellXYZForALiving? IHeardYourCompanyCanUseAProductLikeThat. WouldYouLikeMyCard? IThinkWeShouldMeet. WhatDayIsGoodForYou?

Much to our dismay, we realize that we've just spilled our guts on the first impression, tried to sell the new connection our business or skill, and painfully experienced a miniature mental breakdown in less than 20 seconds. Unsure of how to recover, the next few moments seem to go in slow motion as we see the connection gracefully avoid the onslaught of words and begin to excuse themselves from the interaction.

Our planned conversation? Over.

The new connection we've attempted to make? Severed.

Houston - I think we've experienced a setback.

To make matters worse, that feeling of disappointment has now taken our complete attention away from starting dialogue with other attendees. We quickly forget that the night isn't over and there is still plenty of time left to salvage a room full of opportunities.

The best thing we can do is not to worry! Although we may have struck out swinging on the first pitch, we can easily learn from our mistakes and take that knowledge with us to the next event or even the next conversation. Instead of instantly trying to create a red phone hotline to new acquaintances by selling our skills or business upfront, it is always better to have things start off on a very casual note. Every networker needs to remember that it takes a lot of time and energy to solidify a business relationship. One conversation isn't going to place you in the inner circle no matter how much your skills are in need.

7 Tips to Build a Solid Foundation

So to combat our inner desire to offer our services from the start, let's take a look at some tips that we can follow to make sure we properly build a solid foundation to our new connections:

  1. Always show respect to the people you meet.
  2. Be brief. Do not go overboard on time.
  3. Keep the use of the pronoun "I" to a bare minimum.
  4. If you're speaking to a targeted connection, lead the conversation but let them do the majority of the talking.
  5. Never ask for their business card in the beginning or the middle of a discussion - always at the end.
  6. If you walk away with their email address, think about following up with an quick email a few days later.
  7. Make a point to attend another event where you know you'll see the connection again.

These seven useful tips, although helpful, are just a few of a long line of suggestions that we can abide by. It is important to note that these techniques may not work for every conversation. Depending on the event and attendees, your options might be limited. No matter what the circumstances are, I can assure you that it is in all of our best interests to calm our inner cheerleader and severe the time that we make sales pitches - lest we see our moment of potential turn into our moment of what could have been.

Photo from Flickr by: Nicola Corboy

5 Places to Find a Networking Event

Dave Delaney

How to find a local business networking eventNetworking in business is extremely important, so it is time to find a local networking event. Here are four places to search for events to consider attending. 5 places to find a networking event

Plancast

Plancast lets you know about the events your friends and colleagues plan to attend, as well as other cool events coming up in your area. A great feature is the ability to browse plans from members, so you can search for similar interests.

You can also use Plancast to organize and share your own events and the events you will be attending.

Meetup

Meetup helps groups of people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs in local communities around the world. It's a great resource for searching for just about any topic. You will be surprised by what can be found in your city.

Eventbrite

Eventbrite is best known as a free online ticketing solution. An important feature is that they provide an extensive listing of public events available in your area.

Chamber of Commerce

Your local area Chamber of Commerce typically has a resourceful listing of local city events and conferences. A simple Google search will help you find your Chamber.

LinkedIn Events

I write about LinkedIn frequently here, because it is an important part of your networking. Did you know they also have an extensive listing of events?

What did I miss here? How do you find local events to attend and meet people?

Photo from Flickr: unknown