In today’s digital age, it’s all too easy to freelance from one office to the next, work at home and do all your socialising on Twitter and Google Plus. That’s all well and good, but it’s not the greatest way to build those real, lasting connections.
After moving to Melbourne from Oxford I freelanced as a UX designer in numerous agencies, meeting lots of talented people all over town. We’d chat about the web, share techniques and get excited about new technologies. Almost everywhere I worked people would ask if I knew of any regular meet-ups where they could chat shop over a beer. I didn’t, but there was obviously a market for one and so my business partner and I founded Melbourne Geek Night.
The first thing I decided was that I didn’t want our events to just be socials in a pub. It had to have structure, substance and purpose. I’d heard about a highly regarded meet-up in Oxford that friends attend and their format for speakers was really good; a couple of 15 minute ‘keynote’ talks and a handful of 5 minute ‘micro’ spots.
I loved the idea of keeping the talks short, so they’re compact enough to keep the audience engaged and the speaker working hard to convey their message. We modelled our evenings on that one and people seem to dig it.
We’ve been running the community meet-up for around three years now and find it a really fun, rewarding thing to be involved with. The biggest benefit is most definitely the unique opportunity to meet new, like-minded people and to learn from them through their talks, and the debates that continue afterwards.
There’s no denying it’s also a great way to help build a professional network, and most that attend have built strong connections both socially and professionally. As a business it’s even a way to find potential employees and of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have my company’s name associated with a popular industry event.
We don’t make any money from running the night. It’s very much a ‘love job’ and although it can sometimes be quite time consuming to organise, it’s put our company in a great position and is worth every second. So if you’re thinking of organising your own community meet-up I’d absolutely advise you to go for it. It’s been great fun running ours; the talks are always fascinating and we’ve made a number of great friends in the process!
Thirst Studios is a small, close-knit user experience design team based in Melbourne, Australia. They help organisations create and improve online products through research, strategy and design.
Illustrated by Jay Barnham
- One Thing I Know