The importance of events to run a tech community

I discussed with Marian Danko, founder of weHustle and TECOM, about his projects. In his answers, it is clear that he pays strong attention to events to run a tech community. That is how he experiences the passion of that group and their mission. Therefore, it makes sense that Marian is a volunteer at Startup Grind and Angelhack. And that’s on top of setting up TECOM, a conference for entrepreneurs and community builders in Shanghai. Marian, believes in the power of offline gatherings.

Shanghai says – online first!

When I first arrived in Shanghai, I believed otherwise. WeChat is everywhere and is often the link between reality and people’s life. Communities wouldn’t survive offline because everybody’s attention was online.

In fact, somebody with good intentions could spin off a WeChat group instantly. And in a couple of hours, have two hundred participants sharing heated opinions on something hot and trendy. Spammers would most likely overtake the same group after a couple of days.

That’s how I came back to Marian’s opinion that communities need to crystallize their existence with in-person events.

In-person events aren’t dead

Startup Grind in Shanghai is thriving. They run sold-out events with inspiring speakers. This momentum creates a strong following with old and new faces. AngelHack is the platform for developers to hack on new technologies or APIs. While some hackathons run online, I have seen better results with offline experiences. It is about the people you connect, as much as the context in which you work.

I also have done my fair share of local events: Startup Weekend, DrinkEntrepreneurs HK, la French Tech HK, and Techstars. I have tested many different formats, setups, and audiences. There is a significant surge of engagement, support, and new initiatives after each gathering. My go-to reply addressing growth was: “host one event, get three more in the pipeline.”
Great participants attract their peers and the passion rolls to a broader circle.
Over time, running local events become the backbone of communities.

Three realities – being a community builder

Have you started nurturing a community? Maybe for your job, possibly for fun. If you’re communicating with the same group of people on a common topic, the chances are that you’re part of one.

Are you a leader or a feeder? The leader would typically give the general direction to the movement and be aware of the small prints that get everybody on the same page.
If you are the leader of a community, you should be observing that far from being a fancy position, you are facing some hard realities.

Your reach is only as strong as the individual’s engagement

There is a scale on how much you can expect from your community. Joining an online group being one of the simplest and expecting somebody to donate cash or their productive time being the trickiest. As you are lacking for direct incentives, you need to engage with people on many other ways.

Inertia takes time, momentum is bliss, memories are short

As you set up your community, it will take a lot of time to rally up people and get them on the same page. Once the ball is rolling, the magic happens. If you stop working and communicating, people will go a lot faster than it took to get them onboard

There is a way against loneliness

While the community best representation is a horizontal network, I found that you’d still have somebody behind the scene pushing the movement. For that person, it will be intense yet mildly rewarding.  The solution, mingling with other community builders. For some interesting reasons, brains of two community builders often click when they meet. They have the same set of values and interests and challenges.