For a few months now, I’ve been planning to write a post on how to get involved in your local tech scene.
Sounds like fun. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me tweet about any number of Portland tech events, like Lunch 2.0, Beer and Blog, Ignite Portland, BarCamp Portland, the list goes on for a while. I’ll spare you.
Portland has a lot of geeky events and a strong tech community, but many of these events can be recreated just about anywhere, e.g. Lunch 2.0, Ignite, and BarCamp were all imported from other cities.
Others, like Beer and Blog, are easy to start. Beer and Blog was started by a group of local bloggers who got together to work on their blogs during Friday Happy Hour at a local pub. It’s now a work/social event each Friday, sometimes sponsored by a local company.
I’ve chatted with Chet the ORACLENERD about starting a Tampa Beer and Blog chapter, hoping he hasn’t lost interest. It really is good fun.
Portland’s culture fits these gatherings well; there are a lot of nomadic, freelance geeks and home-based telecommuters who don’t get the usual cubicle, watercooler office experience. So, we like to congregate in wi-fi hotspots to socialize while we work. The good news is you can pick your coworkers. The bad news is work and concentration are tougher to achieve.
Being out and about already, it’s easy to drop by a geeky gathering and visit with your coworkers. Even if you have a traditional office, stopping by an evening event isn’t too difficult. It’s well worth the time spent to meet like-minded people who live in your town.
This is all thanks to the Intertubes. Think about it: you can announce and promote an event (blog, Twitter), manage a group of volunteers (Basecamp), get an idea of who’s attending (Upcoming), publish the content (blog, SlideShare, wiki), get feedback (blog, Twitter) and stay in touch with all the new people you meet (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).
You can do this in your town too. Chances are good there are already some events you can attend. If you live in the Bay Area, you already know, and you’ve got your pick of dozens of these types of geeky meetups. A quick search on Upcoming for your town will tell you what’s out there and who’s going.
Of course, all these techniques work for any kind of get-together, geeky or otherwise. They just tend to work better for geeks, since we’re online all day, every day.
So why would you want to do this? Who cares about meeting other geeks? Based on what I hear coming out of events like OpenWorld, people really get a kick out of meeting people they know virtually. I know I do. It’s a great chance to exchange ideas with people you know have similar interests to your own.
Getting involved with you local tech scene allows you to do the same thing, i.e. connect with like-minded people IRL. No need to wait for a conference; these events are happening all the time. You never know when you’ll meet someone whose blog you read, someone who has the skills to help you with a side-project, someone who has a great idea and needs help, etc.
Did I mention that most of these events are free?
What do you think? A lot of people have time constraints, which is why daytime events like Lunch 2.0 may be appealing. Find the comments and share your thoughts, experiences, questions, all of that.
Maybe Matt will grace us with a review of Startup Rockstars DC.