It seems like there's an important conference every other week these days. In just the next few weeks, Netroots Nation, Personal Democracy Forum, and Take Back the American Dream take place, and many, many more over the course of the year. But there are hundreds or thousands of people in your community who can't attend, and none of us can get to every conference.
If you're attending (or hosting, or presenting at) a conference, you'll hopefully get some real learning from the experience. One way to expand the value even further is to share your experience with your community, and give them a way to interact with the event through you. Here are a few tips on using conferences to build and support your community:
- Share in real-time. People who can't attend are likely wondering, "What am I missing?" Give them a way to see it by live-blogging or tweeting the sessions you're attending, so they can get a peek in while it's happening.
- Don't just report, interpret. People are part of your community because they trust you and want to hear from you. Don't feel bound to report "just the facts." Interpret what you're seeing and give people a sense of what YOU think is happening. This builds your relationship with them, and helps forward your brand and ideas.
- Give people a way to choose. If you can, ask folks what sessions they'd be interested in seeing. Then attend whichever ones make sense and share the experience.
- Have multiple options. If more than one member of your staff is going, have everyone live-tweet from different sessions. Use a hashtag so people can see all the tweets from your org at the event.
This week, some of us will be at Netroots Nation. You can follow our adventures by following @judithfreeman, @suttnutz, @McBenefit, @deepa_k, @kelli_jo_, and @tianaej, and/or following the hashtag #noi12!
How do you bring your community along for the ride when you attend events? Share in the comments!
Evan Sutton is Communications Director at NOI