Events are expensive. Events are time-consuming. Events are oftentimes a logistical nightmare. Despite these barriers and a bevy of virtual events options, I still find it valuable to attend and host face-to-face events and build community.
As a community manager for VersionOne, a leading Agile tools and training company now merged with CollabNet, I had the incredible opportunity to lead the Agilepalooza ‘franchise’. Agilepalooza was a conference series for beginning and experienced agilists to come together and learn from the best and brightest in the industry about agile – how to put it into practice and then scale the mindset and framework throughout an enterprise.
Over the course of nearly two years, VersoinOne hosted countless Agilepalooza events from San Jose to Boston, and Chicago, investing in getting out of the building to learn from the community about how they were adopting agile to fit their unique culture.
These events did much more than just embed VersionOne into the community. They also gave us incredible product feedback for our burgeoning SaaS agile tool.
- How were people using it?
- What use cases weren’t we aware of during a sprint planning session or a daily standup?
- What were teams and executives learning about how they get work done?
The events weren’t a ‘sales-led’ activity, although, when appropriate, we’d demo our product and listened intently to what the market was saying. Sales reps, sales engineers, and product managers — all frequent teammates of mine during these events — scribbled notes furiously as we knew the importance of this market feedback for our product management, product development, executive and sales teams.
Agilepalooza was never about VersionOne positioning the organization as the experts. Our market, especially a highly-technical and skeptical one, would see through this ruse in a heartbeat. Our goal was to nurture conversations between attendees about the challenges they were facing when starting or scaling agile. Our partners – a curated group of experts and partners from across the United States – did a masterful job at delivering most of the Agilepalooza content. Whether it was a roundtable discussion about how to move from one agile team to multiple teams or a engaging, interactive presentation about tips and tricks to spark a more collaborative mindset amongst all team members, the event always packed the house and left the attendees buzzing with excitement and ready to implement change back at their office.
Everyone bellows the term, ‘thought leader’ — as if saying it shall make it so. Becoming a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. It takes continual, consistent engagement with a community already overwhelmed with information and content. Blogging, emailing targeted messages, and hosting informative Webinars are all steps in the right direction to becoming a thought leader in your industry, yet nothing can replace leading helpful debates and discussions with your community – outside of the building.