What’s A TIME Community?
A regional TIME community consists of the closely-related demographics of Tech people, Innovators, Makers, and Entrepreneurs.
In larger metro areas, there are often enough people in each of the four components of the TIME community that there will be minimal cross-group mixing, such as non-tech entrepreneurs going to tech meetings, or makers going to generic “innovation” meetings. But in a less densely populated region, like the eighteen counties of NE Wisconsin, there is much value in cross-pollination between tech people, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs.
From my point of view, the different demographics within a regional TIME community overlap and are complementary to each other.
However, having a diverse group of interests and personalities in the TIME community means it’s challenging to build a cohesive community and to communicate the objectives and value of the community and its activities.
One way a group of like minded people can build stronger relationships and be more cohesive is to have events in which a significant members will participate.
Different Objectives For Events
Events can have a single goal, such as connecting people who don’t already know each other, or learning what the Internet of Things (IoT) is. They can also have multiple objectives, such as increasing job market visibility for companies and workers and giving people or teams an opportunity to demo products they’ve built. Below are examples of possible purposes of meetings for communities of like-minded people.
- Learn and share information and skills
- Work on projects with others
- Demo your startup company or products you’ve built
- Incubate ideas and form new ventures
- Serendipitous innovation and collaborationFun and camaraderie, enhance community culture
- Opportunity to bring in outside speaker or teacher with unique knowledge or perspective
- Increase job market visibility for companies and workers
- Connect people who otherwise might not meet
- Connect complementary communities
- Strengthen existing relationships
- Communication and discussion about issues affecting the group
- Bring more visibility to the group
- Build new communities of like-minded people
Finding Out About Events
When an event is organized, people will only go if they know about it and think it will be worth their time to go to the event. That means the event has to be publicized and communicated in ways that the target audience will find out about it. The event organizers also have to put on events people are interested in and have to effectively communicate what will happen at the event and what people will get out of coming to the event.
The most common ways to let people know about events are:
- Meetup.com — for regular weekly or monthly meeting; interested people can find this by searching with Google or searching on meetup.com. Members of a group can also be notified of events by email, and meetup.com periodically highlights other meetups you might be interested in. In the past ten years, meetup.com has both made it easier to find out about events and helped start and publicize more events. See the chart on the right showing the rapid increase of meetups in the past five years.
- Eventbrite — annual or one-off events frequently use Eventbrite for promotion, communication and ticketing. There’s no charge to use Eventbrite for free events, and it’s a convenient way to handle ticket finances when the events aren’t free.
- Events calendar on group website — listing a group’s event on its website, often using a standard calendar such as Google calendar . This method is most useful for people what are already group members.
- Regional calendars — Many regions have different types of regional calendars. Portland, Oregon, has a tech community calendar, while Portland, Maine, has a website section that lists a much broader offering of groups and activities. Nashville and Orlando also have tech events calendars.
One of the biggest challenges for getting widespread participation in TIME community events is offering programs with broad appeal and communicating clearly why a diverse group of people will enjoy and find the event worthwhile.
People may participate in a small group with a well-defined focus, such as a PHP meetup group, but hesitate to consider themselves to part of the larger TIME community and may not even consider getting involved non-PHP activities. In NE Wisconsin, the PHP person would fit in and likely enjoy Coder Cooperative meetups at the Appleton Makerspace, would be able to contribute to and find interesting challenges in civic hacker meetups, and would be valuable members of a team during Startup Weekend. But because those activities don’t have the PHP label, and because most people don’t know what the Coder Cooperative, civic hacking or Startup Weekend are, the PHP coder might not consider participating, even though there’s a good chance they’d find those event worthwhile.
In summary, TIME communities should work to deliver the following four items:
- A variety of events which will have significant appeal for tech people, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs.
- Events that have well-defined objectives and that achieve those objectives.
- Publicity and promotion of events that will reach the target audience and effectively communicate why they’ll enjoy the events.
- A regional calendar that lists all the tech, innovation, maker and entrepreneur events.