I recently learned of an interesting concept called an “unconference”. Essentially an unconference is a participant driven “meeting” that bypasses expensive registration and travel fees often associated with traditional conferences. It’s a way for people who have established online relationships, to connect and share knowledge in the real world.
The format can range from formal to informal meet-up’s at local restaurants. Either way, the main purpose is to share knowledge, as well as build and maintain relationships of trust.
Here are 7 tips on how to organize an unconference in your city:
1. Settle on a topic, date, and venue. You can ask a local company, community centre or school to donate the space.
2. Use every possible channel to connect with influential people, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and industry blogs related to the topic.
3. Ask for volunteers to help organize the event. Alternately, the unconference could be very informal and therefore, self-organizing.
4. Use a tool such as Eventbrite for people to sign-up.
5. Send out a news release/social media news release to get publicity which should increase registration.
6. If you’re so inclined, you can secure sponsorships and offer food and beverages.
7. Ask people to participate by presenting on a topic they feel others would benefit from. Presentations do not have to be formal; it could be a simple PowerPoint presentation or a guided discussion about a couple of speaking points.
If your’re not into organizing an unconference, you can always attend one. You can set up a Google News Alert for the words “unconference and Ottawa” for example.
You will find several online resources detailing how to organize an unconference. One of note is, Kaliya Hamlin’s Unconference Blog.