Recently a local staffing company asked if I would be interested in presenting a SQL topic at a lunch they would host and market. It seemed like something interesting to explore. Local networking at its best and hopefully to a different crowd than would attend a local user group meeting. I picked security as the topic, something not as catchy as performance tuning but of interest to more corporate SQL people. I also decided to do nothing to help market the event so I could see the results. The results were not promising. Four sign ups, one – one! – attendee. To their credit they offered to let me cancel, but I know that final attendance is hard to predict and elected to stay the course. One attendee got one on one training!
It was mostly what I expected. Driving attendance to any event is hard. It takes repetition, it has to the main/primary/only message in an email, and it takes repetition. It’s hard to tell from an example of one, but I’d bet holding it an obviously “lunch” place instead of the firms office would help, both because it sends the “lunch” message a lot better and it feels less sales pitchy. For events like this I think adding a small raffle prize, some free books, and an incentive to “bring someone” are worth considering, as it incenting the internal team that meets with customers and prospects.
The one mistake I made was not checking on the AV setup beforehand. They had a very large and very nice touch screen monitor, but no cable to hook up to the laptop. I ended up using the deck only. Not optimal and in other cases catastrophic. Rookie mistake?
I want to try this again, so some notes:
- I’m going to insist on a restaurant
- I’m going to insist on a marketing plan that both sides agree to
- I’m debating whether charging a fee might motivate them
- What’s really a win for me? For them? Numbers, type, etc
I want to revisit the focus on local networking. Whether you’re an employee looking for the next opportunity or a consultant looking for the next opportunity, a lunch where people come to see you speak in an area where you want to work can be a big win.