Tech events are a terrific way to meet new people, expand your network, learn new things about your professional field and promote your brand - but putting it all together and creating your own can be challenging. Here, I’m going to share a few tips based on my recent experience hosting a tech event in Toronto.
Why create an event?
- Meet & Contribute
Expanding your network is one of the top benefits of hosting an event. Bringing a group of people together and creating a friendly and cooperative environment where they can connect, learn and grow together is rewarding for everyone involved. At these events you can land your next job or deal, learn about interesting topics, exchange life experiences and make new friends.
- Showcase your work
Hosting an event is also a perfect opportunity to showcase yourself or your brand to the public, and it can be extremely beneficial for small businesses. It not only enhances your visibility in the local market, but also shows initiative and your ability to engage with your community.
Where do I start?
- What do you want to create?
First, decide what kind of event you will create. Is it going to be a meetup? Maybe a hackathon or recruitment fair? However you answer this question, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to build and how the attendees will benefit.
- Find your niche
Think about the purpose of the event and who you’re trying to attract. After defining your objectives and target audience, research the events that already exist for this niche and try to find a gap. Maybe you’ll notice there are no meetup options for a specific community, or maybe there’s a foreign conference you want to bring to your city. You may also find that what you’re trying to create already exists - in that case, invest time trying to add innovative aspects to your idea or change your target.
- Start small
Before you aim for a perfect event on your first shot, consider creating a small one first and growing from there. Learn from your experiences and get to know your audience better so you can provide a better experience each time. Use technology to collect information by making a smart registration form, creating surveys and analyzing your data to know what’s working and what can be improved in your events.
Now that you know the purpose of your event and who you want to attend, you’ll have to choose a name, create a logo and make an event page. It doesn’t have to be a website - you can build a group page on Meetup, for example, and provide a clear description and all the relevant information there.
Find a venue
It’s time to find a place to make this happen. Contact companies that usually host events, or host it on your own. Make sure the venue is big enough for the number of people you’re expecting (usually, around 2/3 of the people who RSVP actually attend the event) and that you have everything you need. Make a checklist and pay attention to details like:
- internet availability
- sound system, microphones and projectors
- speakers are comfortable and have their presentations ready
- guest check-in
Pick a date
Consider the availability of the venue and what’s convenient for the participants, to optimize your chances for good attendance. Make sure you give yourself enough time to find the speakers, organize and promote the event - usually, you’ll need at least 2 or 3 months.
Promote your event
This part is one of the most crucial for the success of the event. Marketing strategies will vary depending on your target audience and budget, but here are some recommendations:
- Use social media. Assess which platform is most used by your potential attendees and consider creating a schedule for posts, observing what times you get the most impact.
- Take advantage of discovery sites like Facebook Events and Meetup or even the Eventbrite search, in case you’re selling tickets.
- If you have the budget, consider using retargeting ads and automated tools.
- Use all your contacts and ask your friends and other attendees to share the event.
Our Event: BRTechTO
BRTechTO was created by myself and Thiago Jansen, another engineer at QM, to build a solid tech community for Brazilians living in Toronto. We wanted to provide an inclusive space to discuss tech topics, career opportunities, and the Canadian market, and to connect people to each other. This project is currently the fastest-growing tech meetup for the Brazilian community in the GTA, and it’s hosted by Uken Games.
First event: 86 tickets sold
Our first event was on January 19th and was sponsored by Devhub, taking place at their lab downtown. We sold 86 tickets (in the middle of the Toronto winter!) and included four amazing speakers, including Quantum Mob co-founder Eric Kim, who talked about the company and the hiring process in Canada.
We're on TV!
During the promotion of the second event, we were invited to an interview at OMNI TV’s program Focus Portuguese to talk about our project and the IT Market in Toronto. Check out our interview here.
So far we’ve hosted two successful events and we'll keep developing ideas to grow even more. Although it can be stressful sometimes, it’s very rewarding when everything goes right and you see the impact your event has on your community. All the energy you spend on it pays off. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to grow and learn as a person. I hope this article inspires you to create your own tech event. Good luck! 🙂