Categories
Marketing Meetup Software Testing

Orders of Communication

Have you ever wanted to ask a large group of people their thoughts on a particular topic? Maybe you want to know what the 2000+ members of the Sydney Testers meetup group want to get out of the group? Was your first thought to create a poll or send out a survey? I bet you that channel didn’t work out so well for you because I tried it.

Here is my list of orders of communication to help you get the results you need when trying to get data to help influence your decisions.

Face to Face

Nothing beats face to face communication. The only draw back with this method is it’s hard to scale to reach a mass market. However the best way to get lots of feedback in a face to face style would be to collect opinions at a physical event. The low-tech solution here would be to hand out a paper survey at a meetup event and collect the results as people leave. BOOM, 30-120 responses based on attendance and it’s all useful data that’s not from some random scrub off the internet. There’s a little bit of manual data entry at the end but the results justify the return on investment.

You see this method play out at conferences for lead generation. A company will have a stall displaying their products and services. They might tempt people in with a competition or survey. “Give us your email for your chance to win” type of deal. This is leveraging face to face communication.

Do you want to settle a deal or convince your boss to give you a raise? Have a face to face meeting in a cosy cafe. It helps build up that environment of trust.

Video or Phone call

If you can’t meet someone in person, arranging a phone call or video chat should be your next point of call. As a millennial I’ve had a mild social phobia of talking on the phone that I’ve had to overcome. I highly recommend getting comfortable with getting on the phone. It will really help with collaborating with any task. As our workforce gets more global this will become more of the way we get work done.

Direct Message

I created this survey for gathering feedback from Sydney testers members last year. However I’ve only received 41 responses so far. I’ve done some pretty thorough marketing for this survey and the results just don’t justify the effort. I did:

  • Sent an email through the MeetUp app asking for feedback
  • Created a discussion on meetup asking for feedback
  • Asked every tester in Sydney who’s a level 1 connection on my LinkedIn to provide feedback via personal direct messages
  • Asked the committee to share the survey
  • Ask every new Tester who I connect with on LinkedIn to provide feedback

The feedback has been really useful but it’s been a lot of work. Work that I’m not getting paid to do either. So I don’t see it as a useful use of my time.

Social Media

Social Media is the ultimate spray and prey method. You put stuff on the internet hoping for people to stumble upon it and react to it. Posting just once hardly is effective. You need to be consistent with this and constantly posting. This is also a lot of work.

For example we’ve had this poll on our Sydney Testers meetup page since 2014, yet we only have 20 responses.

Most of the results so far are around job opportunities, networking, learning tech skills and remaining relevant in my career. If you run a tech meetup, your members probably want very similar things.

Conclusion

I prefer face to face communication above all others. I think meetup sucks as a platform for trying to engage people outside of the “turn up to this event” type of engagement. Do you dis-agree with what I’ve put here? How so?

Categories
Conferences depression Meetup mental health Presenting Technology Travel

2018 – a year in review

2018 has come and gone. You know what, overall it’s been a pretty shit year for me but the goal of this blog post is to take a moment to practice gratefulness and to reflect.

The crappy bits

I started 2018 not being able to walk because I broke my ankle in December 2017 and couldn’t walk for 12 weeks. I was also starting a new job. 2018 saw me go through a relapse of depression because of broken leg blues and I went through 2 jobs. The first one wasn’t the right fit and the second one had cash flow problems. But still, these were unplanned events that made me feel like failure.

However that is enough moping about. What else did I achieve in 2018?

India

I spoke at the Selenium Conf in India in July. This was pretty cool. It doesn’t matter how much people tell you about cultural differences, it’s really worth experiencing some of these things yourself. I had never been to India before so that was exciting.

Other Conferences

I spoke at a few more in Aus (Agile Australia, and Australian Testing days), you can see all of my recorded presentations here. I also attended a few offering my sketch noting services. I enjoyed being able to attend these conferences and add some value back.

Public Transport

Getting around on wheels made me appreciate public transport here in Sydney. Sure it’s not 100% perfect, but it’s definitely better than New York. Watch Zach Anner on his quest for the rainbow bagel using the New York public transport:

Sydney Testers

The community here continues to amaze me in the quality of events we’ve done. We’ve really had a good year considering all of the ups and downs the committee has gone through. Here’s a recap of nearly 40 events done in the last year.

We’ve had international guest speakers; James Bach and Michael Bolton thanks to Catherine Karena’s training efforts. There’s been events from Security at Qantas to Mobile Automation at Woolworths. Thanks to everyone who made this an awesome year for the community.

Thanks

Thank you for being a part of my year. Here’s to making the next one even better. This one I will get to start it on the right foot (*tehehe*, pun intended). Here are some goals I’ve set myself for this year.

Categories
Meetup Software Testing Technology

Sydney Testers for 2019

Thank you to every one who’s been involved with Sydney Testers. What a year it’s been for meetup groups. In this blog I’m going to look ahead to reflect on what we could achieve for 2019 but first here’s a recap of what we’ve done for Sydney Testers in 2018;

  • 13 meetup events
  • 7 dice game sessions
  • 5 social events
  • 4 testing in the pub discussion groups
  • 4 CV clinic sessions
  • 2 Lean Coffees
  • 2 Cross promotional events
  • 1 Webinar
  • 1 Workshop

1 main meetup each month

We will continue to aim for 1 big meetup event a month. I’m going to experiment with more discussion groups and more 3 x 20 minute talks per 1 meetup to help keep things fresh. Do you have a 20 minute talk proposal? Submit your proposal here.

Getting more people involved

I’d love to see things like the discussion groups, dice game sessions and lean coffees run in other parts of Sydney. These event don’t take much to organise and don’t require a budget because they are often “pay your own way”. I can mentor anyone in how to run these events too. I’d love to see some of these events in Parramatta, Macquarie and North Sydney. You don’t need to run these events every month. Once every 2-3 months would be fine. If you are interested, reach out to me via sam@thebughunter.com.au .

Money

See this blog about Sydney Testers and money, we hope to raise more funds for events and to continue paying for incidentals (like meetup fees). Feel like sponsoring or hosting an event? Please reach out to me.

Leadership

At some point I will naturally step down from leading Sydney Testers. I might do this in 2020. Do you want to help out? I can help mentor anyone in how to run events for Sydney Testers if you are interested. We may even have an election at the end of 2019 to elect new members?

Feedback

Please fill in this survey if you’d like to help drive the future of Sydney Testers. We really appreciate any feedback you may have.

Categories
Finances Meetup Software Testing

Sydney Testers and Money

We have a Sydney Testers evening with James Bach coming up soon and you might be curious to know why we are charging $5 for it when it seems we have a sponsor for the event (Campaign Monitor). There are actually a few reasons to try this model that I will explain in detail.

Ongoing costs

prices from meetup

Meetup chargesĀ US$14.99/month for any big meetup and the organizing committee often foots the bill for this. There were times we were buying name badges and accessories for events. There’s been a few occasions when the organizing committee have footed the bill for food (I paid for the pizza for Michael Bolton’s talk expecting to be able to claim it back later but couldn’t). Sometimes we have sponsorship for food scrape through at the last minute. For example our bug bounty discussion panel at Prospa, Prospa did an awesome job of hosting us but didn’t have the budget for food and drinks. We had Bug Crowd confirm the day before the event that they were able to sponsor food and drinks. It would be nice to have some buffer of money/sponsorship so these moments aren’t as stressful. Our average meetup generally costs our sponsors anywhere from $200 to $500.

Meetup’s view of the money portal

Turn out rates

The meetup average drop out rate is around 50%, plus or minus 10% depending on things like the weather and location of the event. This can have an impact on food budgeting and moral. With a paid event the drop out rate is expected to be around the 20-30%. It makes it easier on organizers who are catering food to organize if the RSVP numbers match up to reality. We also get a better vibe. Imagine expecting to turn up to an event where 100 people RSVP’d and only 40 people turned up. You’d feel a little disappointment with the turn out. As an organizer it would suck your motivation for running future events too.

Lost funds

The previous committee had a paypal account set up and linked to Meetup but when the organizer left, the paypal account left with them and that means any previous funds we had raised (like when Michael Bolton came to Sydney and we charged $10 per person for) we actually never saw that. Which is a sucky situation to come to terms with but it’s the current situation. That’s why we haven’t charged for anything since then because we wanted to try and sort it out. This time we’ve just started from scratch with a write off for the previous balance.

Paypal setup

Paypal takes a 4.4% cut out of every transaction so for every $5 ticket sold we get $4.57. Currently I re-jigged an old business account I had set up for my tutoring services. The account has been shared with the committee so if one person leaves existing members still have access. You might see Sam’s Tutoring on your receipts until we update the details.

please don't be concerned if you see my details on the receipt
Example PayPal receipt

Free events

We will continue to run free events that benefit members, if you want to help organize any or have ideas for events that you’d like to attend hit us up. We are always open for ideas. The CV clinics we’ve been running this month came about from discussions in the pub. So please, suggest your ideas, we’d also appreciate if you helped with an event or two.

Any profits will be donated to charities

For James Bach event, Campaign Monitor has selected the drought appeal where profits will be contributed. You don’t need to worry about me profiteering from this event.

Investing in your education

Isn’t it worth spending a few dollars to support the community, your education and the drought appeal? These are just our first steps towards managing this meetup just a little better. We are always open to suggestions.