A s it expands like an inflatable raft, the Boulder tech community attracts a lot of generalizations from the public.
“They smell too strongly of Cheetos.”
“They spend too much time online and not enough time being insufferable like the rest of Boulder’s residents.”
“Did we mention the Cheetos? It’s a problem.”
While some of those allegations may bear a subtle hint of truth and orange powder, there are far more accurate descriptions of Boulder geeks that are worth mentioning. For example, it is a stone-cold fact that Boulder’s tech community absolutely loves events. Meet-ups, live demos, pub crawls — there isn’t an event category that Boulder’s geeks don’t crave.
I should know. As one of Boulder’s feistiest event directors (responsible for both Ignite Boulder and the recent Boulder Startup Week), I’ve learned how to make Boulder’s gadget gremlins go ga-ga for gatherings. Let me share a few tips with you, in the event (haha) that you decide to plan a tech-focused shindig sometime soon.
Shower them with shirts
The biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my event-planning career is not ordering enough T-shirts to distribute to filthy-handed nerds. People love free T-shirts, and geeks are certainly no exception. The look on a fellow’s face, his cheeks smudged with trackpad grease, as he realizes that there are no shirts left, why, it’s something that is just as haunting as it is annoying.
Not only that, but you can compound your mistake by only ordering shirts for dudes. The old tech event maxim used to be, “Hey, Cheeto-brain — where are all the ladies?” That demographic sausage situation has given way to an increasingly balanced mix of sexes, at least in Boulder. Order lots of shirts for every gender, and you will know hugs.
Have a hashtag
If you spend zero time on Twitter, this is going to be a little difficult to understand. If you throw an event that in any way addresses the cheesy needs of local geeks, you’re going to need a hashtag. A hashtag, put simply, is a way for Twitter users to categorize their tweets so that it’s easy to determine what they’re referencing and, more importantly, who else is discussing that topic.
A hashtag example is #bsw12 or #bocc. Keep them short and fairly sensible. I could write an entire column about hashtags, but I won’t because there are plenty of them out there. The main thing I want to get across is that it’s your job as the event organizer to assign and promote the hashtag. Make it easy for people to connect, and you will know even more hugs.
Provide photo opportunities
There are lots of creative ways to capture photos on your phone (Instagram, 360 Panorama, Path), so I encourage you to include as many photo opportunities as you can for your event.
Hire a clown. People will take photos with the clown and forever after remember your event as “the one that produced all those unsettling clown photos that got me unfriended by my professional colleagues and former paramours.”
Do whatever it takes to increase the quantity of photo content that was generated at your soiree.
Your event might be terrible. That just means you have things to work on. Persistence will lead to attendance. Don’t skimp on the Cheetos either.