In mid-2009, Christina Coster asked if anyone involved in the Twitter group, #Eventprofs, was interested in producing an unconference for event professionals. With a lack of low-cost meetings for the meetings industry, I jumped at the idea. After several planning calls with Christina, Jeff Hurt, Mike McAllen and Mike McCurry, Event Camp 2010 was born. Event Camp is not just an event, but a collaboration of individuals that were brought together through a simple Twitter hashtag. The planners of Event Camp have an interest in events, technology and social media. More important, we have an interest in changing the status quo that has been the norm of meetings and events for some time. We want to educate our peers. We want to make a difference.
I have to admit that creating an entirely volunteer based event is a challenge. We all have full-time careers that often take priority over Event Camp. The wonderful thing is that as we are going through the development process, we are learning things that will help us all produce better events in general. What I have learned mostly is that people are anxious to learn and that there are many people that are grateful that Event Camp is being offered as a low-cost alternative to the major annual conferences in the events industry.
There is more to this story. What began as a “group” on Twitter has now become a true community. A community where the members care about each other and help each other the best that they can. It is truly amazing that people that started a relationship in a 140-character chat room are now professional colleagues and personal friends.
This became evident last night when Christina Stallings expressed her desire to attend Event Camp. As a new, but talented event planner, Christina is hungry for knowledge, but lacks the funds to travel from Atlanta to New York. In the spirit of crowd sourcing, Christina created a scholarship drive to fund her travel. This creative and proactive approach had received attention from a number of other members of the #Eventprofs group including Paul Salinger, who has graciously pledged to match any funds that she has raised toward her trip to Event Camp. Paul’s generosity, combined with Christina’s desire to attend to learn and meet other #eventprofs clearly demonstrates the power of Twitter.
I know that #eventprofs is not the only group on Twitter and just one of many examples demonstrating what a powerful networking tool Twitter is. I am proud to be part of #eventprofs and thrilled to be hosting Event Camp 2010.