(This post was originally posted on the Beautiful World blog, here.)
This coming Thursday is the next NFPTweetup, taking place at JustGiving‘s new offices. As part of a blog series leading up to the event, I was asked to share some thoughts on the event, especially for those coming along for the first time that may not know what to expect. As I started to collect my thoughts, though, I realized that my impressions and recommendations were really applicable to any tweetup or offline gathering of online networks.
I’m sure that you’ll have more to add—and I hope you will—but, here’s my list of key tips for making the most of tweetups!
Tip #1: Share Great Stories
You aren’t bound to 140 character updates any more, so let your storytelling flow! NFPTweetups and other events where online networks come together offline are unique opportunities and hear from practioners and colleagues and get the “real story.” There’s time and space to sit down and learn more about how others are doing what they do: the success stories and the not-so-successful stories. Lesson: Listen!
Tip #2: Ask Hard Questions
Whether it’s Twitter or email or a social network, people often find it difficult to ask hard questions online because it could be seen as overly negative or critical, maybe the shared glossary of terms don’t match up and the question is misunderstood, or there’s details that one side or the other don’t have access to. That’s not the case when you get to meet up face to face. This is a great chance to ask hard questions (when someone’s telling a success or not-so-successful story, ask for more details, ask why/how/what/when) and know that you will be able to be understood as will the answer. Especially with the NFPTweetup, these events are intended to be educational and valuable. Lesson: Ask!
Tip #3: Meet Real People
We all work hard to present ourselves online the way we want to be seen, either for our job/professional careers or to keep a line between personal life and work. Only knowing someone by their avatar or their username may make it difficult to share stories and ask hard questions, online. But, now you’re offline and can enjoy the presence of lots of other real people (note: we assume you’re a real person, too!). So, make friends! Find out what you have common (hobbies, music, travel) and what drives people to do the work they do (personal stories, passions, skills). It’s okay to be human, and it will actually strengthen the network when the offline event is over and people move back to the online connections. Lesson: Socialize!
Tip #4: Stay Present
I know it can be tempting to tweet, blog, and video every moment of the event. But, remember why you’ve come together. You are here to tell stories, ask questions and meet/make friends. Most events, like NFPTweetup, will have set up a live stream and nominated people to tweet and share in real time for those who couldn’t attend in person. The reason that those roles are selected and covered ahead of time is to free up all the other participants to stay present. Say thank you and enjoy the freedom! Lesson: Participate!
What are your tips for making the most of a tweetup? Have you attended the NFPTweetup before – will you be there this time? Look forward to connecting with you!