Our first OUG Ireland Meet-up

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Last Thursday evening (20th October) we had our first Meet-up event for OUG Ireland.

Up to recently we have had a one or two full day SIG events that covered both the Tech and BA/Big Data areas. But we have been finding it increasingly difficult to get speakers and attendees to take a full day out of work to attend the SIG events. This was particularly true for a SIG event we had scheduled to happen in early October. But by the end of August things were not coming together for us, so it was time to try something new.

Over the past couple of years Meet-ups have been growing in numbers and in popularity. We (the OUG Ireland SIG committee) have been keeping an eye on this in the UK and Ireland.

It was time to get this concept a try.

What did it entail and what venue did you use?

The first thing we needed to do was to arrange a venue. A very popular location for Meet-ups in Ireland is in one of Bank of Ireland branches. This is Bank of Ireland on Grand Canal Dock in Dublin. It is one of their enterprise centres and is open during the day for meetings, as a workspace and it also operates as a branch. In the evenings and on a Saturday morning it is available for groups to hold meetings for larger groups and Meet-ups. We have the venue from 6pm-8pm.

What presentations did you have?

After securing a venue the we then decided to have the theme of the Meet-up to be about ‘Updates from Oracle Open World’. Most of the SIG committee was at Oracle Open World, so that should be easy enough to put a few presentations together and we got the local Oracle office to joins us to.

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What about catering?

The venue very kindly supplies some soft drinks, tea, coffee, a few beers, along with some sandwiches and pastries. All for free!

So far we have a free venue, free catering and the committee for presenters.

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How did you advertise the event?

The only other thing we needed to do now was to advertise the event. For this we used a combination of EventBrite and Meet-up.com for this, along with our own contacts. Plus some of our friends helped to spread the word. This worked really well. We ended up getting roughly the same number of people registering for the event on each platform. We had 98 registrations on these websites.

Something we were warned about is that a lot of people will register, but if you get 40% of those turning up for the event then you are doing well. We got 48 attendees (=50%). We were delighted with this. For our full day SIG events we might have had 20-25 attendees.

How much this this event cost?

It cost us zero euro/dollars/sterling. As there was no admin, advertising costs, catering, room hire, nothing. Well that is not entirely true. There was a small cost and that was for our membership fee to be on Meet-up. That cost me about $30 for 6 months (unlimited plan). Yes I’ve paid that myself.

What was the feedback after the event?

The feedback was fantastic. People loved the new format, loved that it was in the evening after work, liked the short length presentations, liked that it was free, etc.

I also asked people if they might be interested in presenting at a future Meet-up. Personally I had 5 people talk to me about this. The over committee members also had people talk to them about it. It seems people are interested in trying the shorter format presentations, as it is not as daunting as presenting at a conference. A conference seems to be more formal and a step up in presenting levels.

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What next?

Well we have the same venue booked for 12th January and 11th May. We have our 2 presenters for the 12th January already. We actually had those before our first meet-up. Plus for the 11th May we have some possible presenters and I just need to work with them to see who will get on the agenda.

The plan was to have 3-4 of these each year. Based on the feedback and the level of interest we might need to have a few more. But it is still early days and we need to see how things develop.

Our Meet-up was in Dublin. Ideally we want to bring this to over regions. For example we could do the same in Belfast and Cork, and possibly Limerick and Galway. This is something we are looking at and in 2017 we will definitely have a Meet-up in one (or two) of those locations. That would bring us up to 4-5 Meet-ups in 2017.

Thank you to everyone who attended and everyone how helped to make this happen.

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