Many of our participants’ unexpected favourite takeaway from our events is the added bonus of networking. They arrive often alone and leave with many new contacts and friends who may shape the way they work in the future. Making pre and post event networking easier for our participants is something we, as organisers, are always looking at.
We started using Slack (the business collaboration tool) as a company in January 2016, and in the past year it has radically changed the way we communicate as a team. It has freed us up from over-full inboxes, given us visibility into all areas of the business and – as remote workers – it has connected us in a way I didn’t think possible. Basically, it has made us work smarter and feel more connected as a team. So sharing our love of Slack via our events seemed to be a logical step forward.
We trialled Slack this year on our Agile Cambridge and Agile in the City Bristol events, and it has added to the event experience for our participants. It has helped create another way for our participants to collaborate, and made a space in the week or so before and after the event where they can genuinely network so they don’t arrive at events alone.
My top tips from our experience for creating a Slack event channel are:
- Give people the option to join when they sign up to the event, so you’re not spamming anyone. Most people love Slack, but not everyone!
- Don’t have too many channels – it creates confusion. We found that using just 5 – Session, Feedback, Random, Who’s here and General – worked pretty well and I think we could even cut that back.
- Make it welcoming and informative. Pre-seed with speakers, programme committee members and add info that’s of interest. So when people join up, they join in.
- Use it to share vital event knowledge, eg where the coffee is, when the keynote starts.
- Track it to get instant feedback and react, eg when a participant says a room is too hot, you up the air conditioning.
- Add the speaker slides from the event – Slack is a great post event resource.
- Let it do its thing and evolve from the channel members’ input! But make sure it keeps to the event Code of Conduct.
We felt Slack added to the event experience for participants and the feedback we have received has been pretty great. Whilst we continue to look at ways to help our event community network outside our events, Slack has helped make this easier. We will be using it at our events going forward.