Behind the scenes of our first Eventprofs Dublin meetup

Recently I learned the importance of involving clients all throughout the software design process, since it ensures that at the end the final product responds to the challenges they are facing.
Sounds basic, right? It is just the bare minimum any company should do: listen.
Well, this is one of those easy-but-not-simple things.

As it turns out, getting to know your audience is a lifetime commitment that needs to be taken on with humility and respect. It requires you to push yourself back and listen, truly listen, mindfully, actively and quietly, to find out what they need, want and expect from a partner. At least, this is voxgig’s approach to listening.

Richard, our CEO, knows this very well. He comes from a tech background and has learned that keeping engaged with the community you are part of is vital in the success of your initiatives. Through his many years developing software, and starting and managing successful enterprises, he has learned that one of the best places to listen and learn is meetups.

The next step for us was clear: we needed to attend eventprofs meetups to learn more about the industry we are part of.
Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be any eventprofs meetups in the country. After some research, we hadn’t found a forum where event professionals could get together to learn from each other, exchange experiences and network.
There was only one thought in our heads: what a great opportunity! Let’s start a meetup.
And so our meetup adventure began. Natalie Gray, Head of Business Development, and I were assigned the task of finding venues, speakers and attendees, as well as looking after the logistics for a series of meetups for event professionals in Dublin.

The preparation took a few weeks. Natalie looked after the big picture while I was more involved in the finer details. Soon, we had a general guideline to work on: we would have two speakers, drinks and nibbles, and a networking space in a local pub after the talks.
During this preparatory stage, Natalie used her existing contacts from decades in the events industry to source the initial speakers. We were privileged to attract two amazing speakers, who accepted the invitation to be the first in the series: Alex Vail, renowned UK finance event director and events author, and Maria Keenan, marketing manager at Tito and one of our closest partners in Ireland. We cannot thank Alex and Maria enough for believing in this project and endorsing it the way they did.

The chosen venue was the Bank of Ireland Montrose branch in Dublin, which has a fantastic co-working space at the front with everything we needed for the event. Daniel Moore, events executive at the branch, was incredibly helpful and welcoming. We know part of our success belongs to him and we are very grateful.
For the catering, we partnered up with The Right Catering Company. The name couldn’t suit them better. They were indeed the right company for us. Their team went above and beyond to help us and delight our guests.
Promotion took up a big part of our time. We used Twitter and LinkedIn and appealed to our personal networks, sending invites to partners, friends and other people who could be interested. Everyone in the company got involved in this part of the project.
Pauline Kwasniak of TurnedSee also deserves a mention. Pauline helped us with promoting the meetup to her wide network of event organizers.

The days were passing quickly and the uncertainty was huge. Our meetup group grew from zero to over 100 members in only a couple of weeks. Soon, 50 people had confirmed they would attend our inaugural session. However, we didn’t know what to expect. Up to that point, the event had been different to every other meetup we had organized before in terms of audience, reach, and response from guests. We weren’t sure it would work until it finally did.
The day of the event, I went to Dublin early in the morning to look after the final details and to be available in case anything was needed. The excitement was palpable. The whole team was in stand-by, waiting to hear the news. It was a very sunny and gorgeous day, which is not common in Ireland. This would normally be a welcome thing, but on this occasion, not for us: with sunshine outside, we were fearful that nobody would show up!
Fortunately, we were wrong. When the first person came through the door there was a sign of relief in our faces. It was even better when the venue started to look fuller. By the time we finished, the place was full of happy faces.

Richard was the first one on stage. He welcomed everyone and introduced Alex, the first speaker of the evening. Alex talked very openly and honestly about how to climb the ladder in an industry as competitive as events. He took his 13 years’ experience organizing over 800 conferences and events across many industries and compiled them into seven secrets for eventprofs who want to grow and develop their careers.

Then Maria came up to talk about Tito and how they have used integrity as their flagship, boosting their engagement and sales. You have probably heard of Tito, a global provider of event and conference ticketing software. Maria is responsible for their online communications, specifically their blog and other content marketing efforts. She aims to enable conference and event organizers to optimize their marketing and sales strategies through genuinely informative resources and research-backed industry insights. This was another extraordinary and enriching presentation.

And that was the end of the event. Did we miss something? How about the sales pitch for our brand?
In fact, there was no branding from our side at all: no banners, no posters, no flyers. Our name was mentioned when we introduced ourselves to the attendees in the networking part of the event and once more when Richard welcomed everyone, but that was all.

The reason for this approach is both incredibly simple and powerful. Our only objective with this initiative is to build community among eventprofs. Unlike other organizations, we are not running events for the sake of openly promoting who we are and what we do, and pushing our brand as hard as possible. No hidden agendas; no dark purposes. We are here to listen, learn and build community together.
And people responded to it. The face-to-face feedback as well as the comments in social media were very positive. It seems this was something the industry wanted for a long time, but nobody did before.
Looking to future meetups, we are now building a database of potential speakers who we think would provide interesting insights and expertise into all areas of event organizing. We are also reaching out to people whom we either already know, or are able to get introductions to, as potential future speakers. We want to ensure that we have a good mix of local and international speakers, and a wide range of topics covering all types of events.

We are also keen to establish relationships with different venues around Dublin. By hosting the meetup in a different space each month, we are creating a great opportunity for venues to show off their facilities and services, and allowing influential event organizers a deeper insight into what is available in the city when they are considering events for their clients. It’s a win-win!
Now we are looking forward to the next meetup, which will take place on July 19th in Dogpatch Labs, Dublin. So far 26 people have confirmed, so the excitement is building once more. We’ll report back afterwards to let you know how we did this time and what’s next in our meetup adventure. Are you joining us?

PS. Find out more about Eventprofs Dublin.

Diana Walsh