Proper Planning and Preparation…
[There are many versions of the 6 or 7 Ps, but the US Marine Corps and British Army start their versions as shown above. That’s good enough for me!]
Because I’m an engineer and because I want to get the most out of every event (whether I’m the events wrangler or a participant), I always develop an event participant plan.
This plan is especially important for event goers, but it’s also something events wranglers should think about. Walking a mile in the participant’s shoes enables the wrangler to provide helpful pre-event information and prep activities for the participants, helps structure the event and the venue so it will be participant-friendly, and assists in avoiding gotchas and other preventable annoyances.
I’m going to an infosec, cybersecurity, or just plain “security” meetup next week. The meeting is the 902_sec meeting organized on Meetup.com. It’s on July 13, 2016, at The Bar Holmgren Way, 2001 Holmgren Way, Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. The listed start time is 5:30 PM, but the meetup organizer said people will continue to arrive after 5:30 because of their work or home schedules. So it’s fine if you show up whenever you’re able to get there.
Here’s the (quite long) event participation plan for 920_sec. This one is tailored to meetups, but the same general format can be applied to conferences, unconferences, and other types of events. In a future post, I’ll present and discuss a checklist intended to better cover the needs of a conference or unconference.
Event Participant Plan (Meetups)
- Create a relevant Meetup.com profile, or update profile if you already have one.
- Invite others to the event. Let people know you’re going to it.
- Find out beforehand who is going, try to learn a little about them, including checking out photos of them.
- Make a list of any registered people you particularly want to connect with at the event.
- Have a goal of learning something new at the meeting; come up with a written objective if you have enough information about the meeting topic or purpose.
- Write down a couple questions for the speaker or topic leader. Also think of a couple questions related to the meeting topic to ask that other participants might answer.
- While preparing for meeting, also look forward to the ad hoc, “don’t know what will happen,” aspect of the event. Unexpected can be good. Serendipitous can be fantastic!
- Before the day of the event, review why you’re attending. Fix it firmly in your mind that you’re going to enjoy the meetup, and that you’ll be someone awesome to meet. (Make sure you actually figure out specific reasons you’ll be awesome to meet…)
- Turn your smartphone off before leaving for the meetup, and don’t check it during the event. (Unless you’re on call or there’s some high-priority reason you need to be reachable.)
- Get to the venue early. Use that time to get to know others who came early, or ask the meetup organizer if they’d like you to greet people as they arrive.
- Focus on others at the meetup. Ask questions, listen more than you talk.
- Get the names of everyone at meetup, and contact info if possible.
- Find out specific goals of the meetup organizer if it’s the inaugural meeting.
- Take pictures and video; ask organizer afterwards if they want copies.
- Ask main organizer if they’ll do an Events Wrangling blog interview.
- Thank organizers for arranging the event.
- Contribute to post-meetup comments, documentation, and publicity.
- Follow up after the event by sending people promised links or other agreed-to items, by scheduling or requesting a post-event meetups, and by letting them know you enjoyed meeting and talking with them. Assuming you did.
- Contact the meetup organizer and offer to help in any way possible for the next meetup.
I’ve already done some of the stuff shown above. If possible, I’ll do every items on the list.
If you’re in the Green Bay area or the Appleton / Fox Cities region and are interested in security, consider coming to the 920_sec event on July 13. If you’re in the Fox Cities and want to ride up to Green Bay together, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com, and we can figure out if schedules allow us to roadtrip together.
I’ll let you know how the event goes.
Additional online resources to help prepare for and get the most value from events:
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
10 Insider Tips for Attending Tech Conferences
27 Things To Do Before a Conference
10 Things to Prepare Before Attending a Conference
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
Preparing for Conferences
Before You Fly Off to That Conference Have You Thought of Everything?
10 Things to Do Before Attending a Conference
14 Helpful Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Conference
Meetup Plan From Host’s Perspective