Many people have asked me why I run Search London, a meetup group that I have been organising for over six and a half years. There are many reasons which I wanted to share on State of Digital so that those who are interested in setting up a Digital Event have some handy, real life tips.We have consistently run around 6 events per year, all in the evenings and most of the time on Mondays or Tuesdays.
The photo is of Jo Turnbull and Tim Sheed at Search London’s 6th Birthday Party.
In the world of digital, where everything is online, you cannot beat meeting face to face, whether this is a formal meeting, an event, a conference or a casual meetup. Meetups have grown in popularity since it was set up in 2012, now there are over 30 million members in 182 countries. I took over the meetup Search London as I wanted to be able to connect with others in the search industry face to face. London is a huge city attracting thousands of people to work, especially in digital. There are many cities around the world and in the UK where there are a lot of digital companies, but as I was working in London, I decided to continue to run the meetup there.
Some people may be put off by the competition and therefore not want to host an event which may appear similar to what is out there in the market. It is important to always offer something different. For example when I took over Search London, there were other digital events but some of these were expensive and they were during the day. I was fortunate to have well known speakers talk at the event from early on and host it in a central place in the evenings. Now in 2017 there are far fewer meetups in Search compared to 2011. It does take time and effort to run events, but if you are persistent, you can run some great digital events. You can also always work with other “competitors”. I don’t see them as competitors but more as collaborators. OMN London and Search London worked together on the Digital Summer Party in 2014 and it was a great success.
I used to work agency side and there everyone looks at you as the expert. It can be difficult to always have the answer for every problem. Therefore I wanted to have a place where those in search could come to and feel comfortable to ask others their questions and go through issues they may be having. It is important that all speakers who talk at Search London give clear and easy to implement actions. There were many search events when I took over the meetup, but there was a gap of presenters who could provide real insights to audiences who could then go away and solve their issues/problems they raised.
This is the most important reason to set up a digital event. It is that you enjoy it. This does take a lot of organisation but I only do this because I want to. I like meeting speakers, guests, socialising with others in the search industry. The meetup group has helped me to bring in a little business while I was working freelance. It has also helped me connect with those in search. I have a website and I have asked people for help. You cannot be an expert at everything!
Do you have a group of people working in your industry, interested in coming to your events? Are they looking for something unique? I am fortunate that I have a lot of people coming to Search London. Many have been coming regularly over the past 6 and half years. I always appreciate the Search London members and many of them have started speaking at the meetups. Search London has grown because Mike Chidzey, Luella Ben Aziza, Russell McAthy and Tim Sheed wanted to help while I was living in Sydney in 2013. Tim Sheed, has continued to help co-organise events. Through running Search London, I have met a lot of people in search and was asked to get involved with Search Elite, which had its first event on May 9th. I will also be helping with promoting Conversion Elite as Search London is once again a media partner.
Search London has around 50 – 60 people at every meetup and I am hoping to put on a day time workshop in 2017 as we did at the Google Campus in March 2014 (seems like a long time ago now). Running an evening meetup is “easier” as people do not need to take the time off work. If you have any questions about setting up or running an event in digital, I would be happy to hear from you – get in touch via the comments!