Social Media Meets Networking – What Makes the Event?

IMG_2150Estimates go as high as 150 plus – that’s the number of people who showed up for Chicago Social Media Club’s December event, only our second ever. So . . . what makes a succesful social media networking event?

If you guessed people, you got the biggest answer right. Here’s a run down, in no real order of importance, of what made this a successful social media networking event, based on comments from our advisory board [I’m a founding member] and our guests.

Want to be a member? It’s free and there’s no registration required. Join Chicago Social Media Club on Facebook.

An Active Social Media Advisory board, including . . . .

Caitlin Rosberg, our event planner who works for the club’s first sponsor, We Seed.

Liz Strauss, Francine Mc Kenna, Sarah Evans, Bruce Montgomery, Andy Sernovitz, Jordan Levy, Daniel Honigman and Randy Likas for being our on-call advisors.

Amber Naslund also known as @ambercadabra on twitter who rounded up our first speaker, Jason Falls, set up our online survey and monitors the @smcchicago twitter updates.

A concierge who knows the territory. For us, that would be Theresa Carter aka The Local Tourist. Theresa’s great at recommending locations and knows which restaurants are easiest to work with.

A guy with a really big office. Here, we turn to Jeff Willinger whose company RightPoint Consulting will host our January event.

A Venue Made for Networking, including . . .

A sound system with more than one microphone. One for the speaker and a roaming wireless for audience questions is even better.

Refreshments, alcohol optional. Keep in mind that an “all ages” event opens the door to students who aren’t 21 yet.

Accessibility – make sure your venue is open to everyone and let your group know that it is.

Parking – let people know where to park and tell them about good deals. Here in Chicago, one block can make a $12 difference.

The vibe – every event has a life of its own, but you can orchestrate the tone a bit by adjusting the lights, music and checking in on conversations.

People who are Passionate about Social Media, including . . .

Speakers – hey, this IS social media. On a recent advisory board call, three people offered to be panel moderators [yes, I was one of them]. So, we decided to have a moderator to moderate the moderators – just kidding, but taking turns leading the discussion is a good thing.

People, people. people – again, no problem here. At first we thought maybe there were too many other similar groups in town. But, most of these tend to informal “tweet-ups” or get togethers for people who are on twitter.

A fantastic photographer, in our case @zemote who took this time setting up taking these Chicago Social Media Club event pictures.

Sponsors – giving the restaurant a pre-loaded gift card is an easy way to manage costs. Buying food is usually cheaper than paying for an open bar.

Friendly attendees – the best compliment last night came from someone who said “I can’t believe how social this group is. You all are so friendly.” While there’s no way to create a culture ahead of time, I’m happy to know that people like us – they really like us/each other.

Founders – a huge thanks to Kristie Wells of Social Media Club for all of her support and encouragement!

Who or what did I miss? Are you a Chicago Social Media Club member – or someone who’s interested in social media? Add your name and link back to your site in the comments section – we’d love to get to know you!

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