Upgrade to Pro — share decks privately, control downloads, hide ads and more …

How To Build Community

How To Build Community

Three years ago, there was almost no tech scene in Oklahoma City. Today, there are over 20 active user groups, and half of those started in 2014. Living in an area with little to no tech community can be a drag, but with a little work, you can help build one in your area. Listen to the story of how myself and other volunteers built up the tech community in Oklahoma, and started the non-profit Techlahoma Foundation that supports all the community events and activities in the area - including a national conference called Thunder Plains.


May 08, 2015

More Decks by vlucas

Other Decks in Technology


  1. Story of OKC Tech Scene • Before 2012 • Many

    past user groups inactive/dead • Almost no tech scene or regular meetups • Only active, well-supported UG was Java • RedDirtJS, RedDirtRuby (one-time conferences)
  2. (continued) • Jesse Harlin and I met at the local

    co-working space and started OKC.js in January 2012 • Used co-working mailing list to launch & get word out • 72 (!) people showed up to our first OKC.js meeting • Built mailing list from there & planned next meetings • Regular meetings since (2.5 years) • 50-70+ people each meeting
  3. Start a User Group • Should be group or tech

    with wide appeal that can bring the community together • General language or tech type - not too specific • JavaScript is awesome for this (everyone uses it), but any user group is better than none • Popular tech stack may very depending on area • Find a good co-founder (or two!) - don’t go it alone
  4. Find a Great Location • Local tech (or community-friendly) biz

    w/event space • Public library with meeting rooms • Vo-tech or local community college • Co-working office or maker space
  5. Plan Your Meetings • Hardest thing to do on a

    continuing basis • Announce meeting information in advance (1 week) • Find speakers (email invitations work great) • Lunch vs. After work - be consistent • OKC.js uses lunch meetings w/free food • Can be community-driven (lightning talks, town hall)
  6. Build a Mailing List • Pass around sheets of paper

    at your UG meetings (at least the first few) • Put a link to signup on your website • Use something like MailChimp (free for 2k emails) • Email meeting announcements & reminders day before
  7. Find a Sponsor • Allows you to provide free food

    at meetings - great for getting more people to come • Local tech startups/co’s are good • Some recruiters are okay • Can come from individuals also, esp. when starting
  8. –Jean Vanier, Community And Growth “One of the marvelous things

    about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.”
  9. Secure a Location • Parter with a meeting space /

    location / company to be the “community hub” • May cost $$; look for mutually beneficial partnership • Should have ability to host multiple user group meetings each month (need flexibility)
  10. Plan to Help Others • Setup a plan to help

    other user groups start • Find space or time that works to meet • Lots of setup: Website, Mailing list, Twitter, Facebook, etc. • How to find a sponsor
  11. Setting Boundaries • You need a code of conduct •

    https://github.com/techlahoma/CodeofConduct • Be open to all types of tech-related user groups - not everyone lives and breathes open source • The community does not belong to you, even if you had a significant role in starting it
  12. –Gene Roddenberry “If man is to survive, he will have

    learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.”
  13. Start a Non-Profit • Consider starting a non-profit to benefit

    all user groups in the area • Expands opportunities for support/donations • Legitimizes your efforts
  14. Techlahoma Foundation • Started the Techlahoma Foundation in 2014 to

    support all tech community in Oklahoma • DOES cost money: • Incorporation • Tax Filings • Logo / Website
  15. Start a Conference • VERY time-intensive - consider partnering if

    you can • Risky to attempt before community is large • Start with a one-day event with 1-2 tracks • Start with mostly or only local speakers first
  16. Thunder Plains • Started in 2013 • 2 tracks, 140

    attendees • Repeated in 2014 • 3 tracks, 275 attendees • 2015 • Just announced our CFP: • thunderplainsconf.com